Tuesday, December 15, 2020

Nina! Nina! Nina!

Nina! Nina! Nina!

by C.A. Matthews

Nina! Nina! Nina!

The chant is infectious. The roar of the crowd is deafening. To hear Nina Turner speak in person is electrifying. You just know you're going to hear the truth and it will set you free whenever you're in the presence of one of the progressive movement's most gifted orators.

I remember the first time we caught up with the former Ohio state senator on the campaign trail. It was early 2016. Nina Turner was the "opener" to Bernie Sanders at a Sanders rally at Baldwin-Wallace University, just south of Cleveland proper. It was a cold winter's day, but well worth the trip. Still a relative newcomer to the national progressive scene, Nina's straight talk and heartfelt inspiration mobilized the troops for Bernie that day.

We were fortunate to hear Nina introduce Bernie again--and all because we made that first trek in the dark and cold to Cleveland. After the Baldwin-Wallace rally, I was fortunate enough to get down to the floor to shake Nina's hand and chat with her for a minute.

 "Nina, you've gotta get Bernie to come to Toledo for a rally!" I shouted over the noise of the crowd. 

"You're right. We need to support our brothers and sisters in western Ohio," she replied. 

Meeting Nina Turner at Baldwin-Wallace University

Sure enough, within a few weeks' time--and with less than 24 hours notice--a Bernie rally was scheduled to take place in Toledo. Along with Bernie and Nina, we also heard from Congresswomen Tulsi Gabbard and Marcy Kaptur, among others. Sort of a "grand slam" of  political celebrities, you could say. 

Without Nina Turner's ever-present support and superb oratory skills, Bernie probably wouldn't have made it as far as he did before the DNC pulled the rug out from under him in the latter half of the 2016 primary season when their chosen candidate was slipping in the polls. It truly was a crime when the DNC leadership refused to allow Nina on stage to introduce Bernie at the nomination convention in Philadelphia. A knife in the back would have been kinder, in my opinion.

To say I'm a "big Nina Turner fan" is an understatement. Even after Bernie Sanders called it quits in 2016, I still harbored much respect and affection for Nina. I've kept up with her work as the first president of Our Revolution, and secretly hoped she would run for a statewide office (like governor) so I could vote for her. Finally, she's taking the plunge--only she's running for US Congress from Ohio 11th district (eastern side of Cleveland to the Akron area). Alas, I live in Ohio's 9th congressional district across the state. So close and yet so far!

While I'm excited to see Nina Turner running for Congress--as she will be a much needed progressive voice there--I won't lie to you. I'm very disappointed to see her running in the Democratic Party primary. Didn't she learn anything about the dirty Dem's duplicity during her time with Bernie Sanders' two presidential campaigns? The Democratic Party leadership have already provided obvious clues that they've chosen their candidate (Shontel Brown) to replace Rep. Marcia Fudge, who will be stepping down to serve in the Biden administration. And after Nina recently spoke at the virtual (online) convention for the Movement for a People's Party, the DNC isn't going to be happy about her openly siding with a new progressive party.

Oh, Nina! Nina! Nina! I feel like crying out. Why can't you run as an independent, a Green, the first big name under the People's Party banner or a Party for Socialism and Liberation candidate instead? Anything except one of those not-to-be-trusted Dems.

The next couple of months will be decisive. Nina will know for certain who all she'll be up against in the Democratic Party primary before too long. Biden will be installed as the next paid-off puppet of the oligarchy in D.C. on January 20. The People's Party has formed officially and been registered in its first state (Maine) and is working hard to do the same in many others. The Green Party US is mopping up after the bloodbath of ballot banishing in several states (including Ohio) and congratulating the many Greens who beat the odds and were successfully elected to local offices. Progressives and their organizations are in a state of flux presently. All is not lost, but things do need improvement.

By the time the special election to replace Rep. Fudge's vacated seat rolls around this spring, we should know more about the lay of the land. Nina could have changed her mind about running in the Democratic Party primary at that point. We'll see. My fingers are crossed that she'll win whatever primary she enters and then the special election and then be seated in Congress. After all, that's where Senator Bernie Sanders first entered the national stage--and just look how far he's come. 

I hope that one day soon we'll be able to call our favorite truth-teller, "President Nina Turner." And we'll be chanting joyfully together once more: Nina! Nina! Nina!

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Tell Congress NOT to cut endometriosis funding!

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Dear Speaker Pelosi, Leader McConnell, Chairman Shelby, Vice Chairman Leahy, Chairwoman Lowey, and Ranking Member Granger:

As advocacy organizations and individuals that understand firsthand the pain and hardship endured by those living with endometriosis, we urge you to support the requests led by Representatives Finkenauer and González-Colón along with Senators Romney and Warren to prioritize funding for endometriosis research in the upcoming fiscal year. Specifically, we ask that you increase funding for the National Institute of Health National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) to at least the levels included in the House-passed bill as well as include report language that lists endometriosis as an eligible condition under the Department of Defense Peer-Reviewed Medical Research Program (PRMRP).

Endometriosis affects about one in ten women, can cause intense pain, and is a leading cause of infertility. Despite its prevalence and health impacts, too little funding has been dedicated toward better understanding, diagnosing, and treating this condition. Many women who live with endometriosis go for years, seeing multiple doctors and even spending thousands of dollars, before they can get a diagnosis and treatment. Women with endometriosis lose an average of six hours of productivity per week at work and the condition is estimated to cost over $78 billion annually in healthcare expenditures and lost productivity. Medical research is the key to finding better ways to diagnose and treat this common and life-altering condition.

Specifically, we request:

  • Inclusion of endometriosis as eligible for funding under the DOD PRMRP in FY 2021. We are concerned by the report put forth by the Senate Appropriations Committee, which does not include endometriosis among the condition eligible under the PRMRP. Endometriosis was included in both FY 2018 and FY 2020, and this opportunity for investment in endometriosis research through the PRMRP must remain available. When research funding is low or inconsistent for a medical condition, it is difficult to attract researchers to specialize in that condition or apply for related research grants and we respectfully ask that you reinstate endometriosis as an eligible condition for FY 2021.
  • The highest possible funding level for the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) in final FY2021 appropriations legislation to ensure that resources are available to double funding for endometriosis research from the FY 2019 level and increase funding for endometriosis for $26 million. We appreciate efforts in both the House and Senate to increase funding for NICHD in FY2021 and ask that the highest possible increase be preserved in the final legislation.

Over 6 million people in the United States are living with endometriosis and our members know firsthand how endometriosis affects the lives of these women and their loved ones. The critical issues that face women with endometriosis need to be addressed and require quick, decisive action to increase research and awareness. As such, we ask that you provide increased funding better to diagnose and treat this condition.

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In a stunning recently-leaked video, Joe Biden is heard telling civil rights leaders that they should be satisfied with his rhetorical acknowledgment and expect nothing more. Biden screams at them saying that he will not be using his executive powers to stand up for the Black community that worked hard to elect him — or any other working-class community. This is a huge development because progressives had rested what little hope they had for Biden on the possibility of executive orders — hopes that Biden just smashed as he said he would only be undoing Trump orders.

Adding insult to injury, Biden nominated dairy industry lobbyist and former Obama Agriculture Secretary, Tom Vilsack, to head the department again. "Vilsack is a rerun of pro-corporate policies that continue to drive rural communities away from the Democratic Party," said The Intercept.

Biden and Harris are determined to convince you that their cabinet of lobbyists "looks like America." The first Latino Secretary of Health and Human Services, the first woman to run the Treasury, the first all-female communications team, the youngest national security advisor in decades. But what difference does it make if your family's poverty, hunger and homelessness are imposed by a Black, Latino or White person? We already have a Republican Party. What actually is the point of the Democratic Party?
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If confirmed, Vilsack will face one of the worst American hunger crises since the Great Depression, with a surge in food prices, COVID-19 cases, unemployment, and food lines running for miles. Instead of using his Obama-era experience to help minority-owned or small farms, Vilsack has used the intervening years to lobby for the corporate American Farm Bureau Federation and the U.S. Dairy Export Council, where he is currently the CEO. The USDA has been almost exclusively led by white men and has systematically discriminated against Black farmers by giving them less federal aid than White farmers.

Vilsack's nomination also risks the loss of one or both of the Senate seats in Georgia's special runoff election because of depressed turnout. He is loathed by progressives in the state for his ouster of civil rights leader Shirley Sherrod while heading Georgia's USDA department of rural development. Vilsack fired her after a deceptively-edited video on Breitbart said she was racist.

This administration is shaping up to be a mash-up of the Obama, Geroge W. Bush, and Clinton administrations. The only difference is they've all had more time to deepen their corruption as corporate lobbyists in the private sector. If it sounds like the country is moving backward, it's because it is. And the Peoples Party is going to turn that around.

Join our National Call this Thursday at 8:30 pm ET with special guest Thomas Frank, the author of Listen, Liberal and The People, No. We will also be joined by Scientists for a People's Party Coordinator, Johanna Heureaux-Torres, who will discuss actions to support Steven Donziger, the lawyer who helped win a historic Amazon clean-up deal against Chevron and now faces six months in jail. It will be our last National Call of the year and we will ring in the holidays with a celebration of everything our movement has accomplished this year! 

In Solidarity,

Carol Ehrle
Media and Messaging Coordinator
Movement for a People's Party

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