Posts tagged with "Ilhan Omar"

Donald Trump illustration by Kaelen Felix for 360 MAGAZINE

Donald Trump Impeached Again

By Dana Feeney

The House of Representatives has voted to impeach President Donald Trump for the second time in his four-year term as president, which started in January of 2017. He is the third president to be impeached and the first president ever to be impeached more than once. This second impeachment comes shortly after the riots in the capital last week on January 6th, 2021. Trump is being impeached on the charge of “incitement of insurrection’’ because of the statements he made on January 6. He told his supporters to “fight like hell” because the Democrats were stealing the election. You can watch the speech hereDuring the riots, Trump supporters carrying a variety of racist and white supremacist paraphernalia swarmed the Capitol and forced their way into the building to stop the count of electoral votes. The riot caused the deaths of at least five individuals, including a Capitol police officer. 

Because of the insurrection, Democrats pushed for Vice President Mike Pence to enact the 25th amendment, which he could use to declare Trump unfit to serve as president and remove him from office. Republicans blocked this move. U.S. Congressmen David N. Cicilline (RI-01), Ted Lieu (CA-33), and Jamie Raskin (MD-08) introduced the article of impeachment to the House of Representatives on the morning of January 11, 2021. The article of impeachment is co-sponsored by 211 members of Congress according to Cicilline’s press release. You can read the full article of impeachment here. On January 13, 2021, the House of Representatives voted to impeach Trump with a 232 to 197 majority. 10 Republicans voted to impeach, more members of the president’s party than in any prior impeachment.

Impeachment does not mean removal from office; impeachment is adjacent to an indictment. The difference in American law is that indictment applies to criminal charges, while impeachment is the accusation of misconduct in a political setting. Any civil officer in the United States can be impeached. In the case of the President or Vice President, the first step is the introduction of the article(s) of impeachment in the House of Representatives. After the article(s) of impeachment are introduced to the House, the House then votes on each article of impeachment, and if any pass by a simple majority, more than 50%, the articles will be tried in front of the Senate. During the Senate trial, the chief justice of the Supreme Court presides over the Senate trial, the Senate body functions as the jury, a committee of House representatives, called “managers,” act as the prosecution, and the president and his or her lawyers act as the defense. All articles of impeachment are argued on the Senate floor, then are voted on by the Senate body to either convict or acquit; to convict, there must be a two-thirds majority. Only two presidents, Bill Clinton and Andrew Johnson, were impeached and reached the Senate trial, both were acquitted. Despite an extensive impeachment investigation, Richard Nixon was never impeached because he resigned.  

Yesterday, January 13, 2021, the House voted to impeach Trump with only six days until the inauguration of Joe Biden. It is highly unlikely that Trump will be removed from office before the end of his term as president. The Senate is not set to be in session until January 19, 2021, and neither Democrats nor Republicans benefit from rushing the trial to be any sooner as this Senate trial will be a lengthy process that requires preparation from both the prosecution and the defense. Despite Trump losing the support of some members of his party, it is unclear how likely it is that Trump will be convicted because, even Mitt Romney, who voted to impeach in the first impeachment, has implied he is unsure that this is the right way to go. Many Republicans may hesitate to vote to convict because of the 74 million people who voted for Trump; these are the people who control whether Republicans will be reelected in the future. The main person who could cause a possible shift is Mitch McConnell, the Senate majority leader. If McConnell chooses to vote to convict Trump, other members of the Republican party may do the same. McConnell released this statement on January 13 saying that “there is simply no chance that a fair or serious trial could conclude before President-elect Biden is sworn in next week.”

Trump has been silent since besides releasing this video condemning violence and has not acknowledged the second impeachment. He has been banned from social media, including Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Twitch, and Snapchat. Along with these bans, the tech industry has made broad statements against this recent violence. Apple and Google have removed the app Parler from their app stores. The app was used by Trump supporters and white supremacists to communicate and coordinate the attack on the Capitol. Further, Amazon Web Services, which hosted the app, has cut off its service to Parler on the premise that it violated its terms of service. One feature of the app was that users could upload a photograph of their government-issued ID or driver’s license to become a “Verified Citizen.” The app lost the support of its security services, which protected user data, leaving it vulnerable to hackers who stole the data and turned it over to the FBI to be used to identify terrorists present at the riot. Read more about it here. Additionally, there are accounts publicly identifying people in photographs from the riots on platforms including Instagram, Facebook, and TikTok. Federal officials are identifying and arresting individuals who were at the event.

 The riots have caused many security changes in Washington D.C. and state capitals across the U.S. as Joe Biden’s inauguration grows closer and threats of further violence continue to spread online. These changes include the resignation of the U.S. Capitol Police chief, Steven Sund, increased police and national guard presence in Washington D.C. and the implementation of high security barriers around the Capitol building. Many D.C. businesses inside of the security perimeter are already making changes in preparation for the inauguration. Some are boarding up their windows in preparation for possible protests while others are preparing to serve guests who come to D.C. for the inauguration. In response to various local, state, and federal officials asking people not to travel to Washington, D.C., Airbnb has canceled all reservations in the Washington, D.C. metro area during the inauguration week, according to this press release. Some hotel chains in the city have stated that they will be hosting guests; as of now, nothing has been done to prevent this.

The events in this article, including the Senate trial, the consequences of the riots, and the coming inauguration, are all ongoing.

 

Kaelen Felix illustrates Ritchie Torres for 360 Magazine

TRAILBLAZER: CONGRESSMAN RITCHIE TORRES

By Elle Grant

January 3rd marked the commencement of the 117th Congress and the swearing of its newest members. For many, it marked the beginning of a new dawn. One that will be followed by the inauguration of TIME’s People of the Year, President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris. They will replace President Trump on Inauguration Day on January 20th. Yet several other remarkable individuals were elected this year and sworn in a bit earlier, solidifying the 117th Congress as the most diverse in American history. One of these representatives is a freshly elected Ritchie Torres, a 32-year-old politician serving the 15th congressional district in the Bronx, New York. Torres is the first openly gay Afro-Latino man elected to Congress, and one of two gay Black men that will serve in the 117th Congress, a distinction he shares with fellow New Yorker Mondaire Jones. 360 Magazine had the opportunity to sit down with Torres to discuss the story of his life, the issues he considers vital, as well as pick his brain for his thoughts on current events.

“I am a product of the Bronx,” Torres says of his childhood, “I spent most of my life in poverty.” Ritchie Torres was raised by a single mother, one of three children, in the Throggs Neck neighborhood of the East Bronx. He recalls the difficulty his mother had raising a family on minimum wage in the 1990s, as well as the awful conditions of the public housing he grew up in. Torres recollects these experiences with the soft yet fluid countenance that marked his speech throughout 360’s conversation with him. He floats between topics and memories with ease.

He recalls, with a rich sense of irony, the construction of Trump Golf Links as a child. “My life is something of a metaphor. I grew up right across the street of what became Trump golf course and actually something funny, is when the golf course was undergoing construction, it unleashed a skunk infestation. So, I often tell people I’ve been smelling the stench of Donald Trump long before he became President.” His own situation, compared with the government subsidized construction of the Trump Golf Links, deeply unsettled Torres’ image of society. He says collectively of his youth, “Those experiences shape not only who I am as a person, but as a public official.”

Such injustices prompted Torres to seek to become “The change that you wish the see in the world,” he says, quoting Mahatma Gandhi. He named public figures such as Abraham Lincoln, Franklin Roosevelt, Lyndon Johnson, Ted Kennedy as role models. He got his start as a housing organizer and eventually took the leap of faith to run for public office, becoming New York’s youngest elected city official at age 25. He had “No ties to the machine. No ties to the dynasties of Bronx politics, but I was young and energetic. I knocked on thousands of doors,” he claims that kind of face-to-face contact won him that election. Torres then became the first LGBTQ+ official elected from the Bronx.

“I think it has several implications,” he says when asked what this early accomplishment meant to him. “I mean, first, we are all products of our identities and our lived experiences. Right? Who we are as people shapes what we do as policy makers. It is important to have LGBTQ policy makers in the room where decisions are being made. A wise person once said, ‘If you don’t have a seat at the table, then you are probably on the menu.’” Referring to his 2020 election win, he says “My election means that LGBTQ people of color, in particular, will have a seat at one of the most powerful tables, the United States Congress.” He calls the reality of his election both empowering and normalizing. “I am a symbol of possibility.”

“I met Mondaire for the first time four years ago,” Torres says of Mondaire Jones, U.S. representative of New York’s 17th congressional district. “I remember when I met him for the first time, we had a conversation about the lack of LGBTQ representation of color in New York state politics. And I never imagined that four years later, he and I would become the first openly LGBTQ Black members of United States Congress.”

Congressmen Torres recognizes that his path, though marked with accomplishments, has not been one of only highs. Torres stands apart as a public official on the national stage who is open about the lows of his life and his struggles with mental health. When asked why he chooses to be so transparent, he says “I felt a deep sense of obligation to speak openly about my own struggles with depression in order to break the silence and shame and stigma that surrounds mental health.” He seeks to evolve, not perpetuate, the current ideas surrounding mental health. He hopes to show that “there is a way forward” out of difficult moments, which for him were struggles with substance abuse, the loss of a friend, and moments when he considered taking his own life. But seven years later, Torres was elected to city council. “I would not be alive today, much less a member of the United States Congress, were it not for mental health care which saved my life.” He aspires to send a message that “Recovery is possible. You can take an antidepressant, as I do every day, and find normalcy and stability” and achieve feats like being elected to Congress.

The 117th Congress is slated to be the most diverse in history. Torres says of this reality, “I think American is increasingly becoming a multi-racial, multi-ethnic inclusive democracy. We are witnessing the collapse of politics as an old voice network. I am part of a new generation of young leaders every bit as diverse as America itself. Congress is becoming what it always should have been, a miniaturization of America itself.”

Torres acknowledges the year 2020, monumental in many ways, as harrowing for his Bronx community. “COVID-19 has been a catastrophe for the city and the country, and the South Bronx has been the epicenter of COVID-19. The South Bronx had the highest rate of COVID-19 morbidity and mortality during the peak of the pandemic. And just as destructive as COVID-19 itself were the deeper inequalities that were brought to light.” He argued that the coronavirus exposed the deeper health inequalities, racial inequalities, and class inequalities laid bare by the pandemic.

These issues are at the forefront of Torres’ mind in thinking of his work as a legislator. When asked what he saw as the first step to rectifying the rampant racial injustice in the United States, he answered “the first thing is to bring greater accountability to policing in America,” an argument familiar to many Americans following the deaths of Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and George Floyd and their ensuing protests. As the Black Lives Matter movement swept the nation with greater momentum than ever before, cries for justice and defunding the police became common across the country’s cities. “Where there is no accountability, there will never be an end to police brutality” Torres says, being especially critical of qualified immunity in the United States.

Torres heads to Congress as a man with a mission regarding many issues. He himself declares “My great passion is affordable housing,” reflecting a long journey working continually in the housing sphere. He seeks to secure far greater funding for public housing in New York City and to expand the Section 8 program. The Section 8 program, also known as the Housing Choice Voucher program, created by an act in 1978, provides assistance to eligible low- and moderate-income families to rent housing in the private market. Torres says, “For me the surest way to stimulate the economy is to put money in the pockets of struggling families.” In order to do that, he believes the solution is an expanded child tax credit, which he describes as the single largest tax expenditure in America, yet he finds fault with a system that is “so regressive that it excludes a third of American families. Particularly the poorest families in America.” Torres’ passion shines through when he discusses the subject, detailing how this solution could slash childhood poverty by 40% in the span of the year. He calls its potential an absolute “game changer.”

Without question, affordable housing and tax reform are the first issues Torres hopes to address after being sworn in to the 117th Congress on January 3rd, 2020. “For me, the central mission of my life is to fight poverty in America. Racially constructed poverty in America. The South Bronx is said to be the poorest district in America and if we can make progressive policies work in the South Bronx, we can make them work anywhere.”

360 Magazine also had the opportunity to discuss a variety of current issues with Congressman Torres, one of which being the then impending Senate run-offs in Georgia. Following races too close to call in November 2020, Republican incumbent David Perdue is facing a challenge from Democrat Jon Ossoff. Additionally, GOP appointee Kelly Loeffler is defending her seat against Democrat Reverend Raphael Warnock. The election is vital because it will determine which party will control the Senate. “The stakes are supremely important,” Torres says of Georgia. “As long as Mitch McConnell refuses to bring critical bills to the floor for a vote, there is a limit to what we can accomplish. For me, Mitch McConnell is the single greatest obstruction on the path to progress. Winning those two seats in Georgia are essential.”

Regarding the impending mayoral race in his home of New York City, as well as early polls that display former Presidential candidate Andrew Yang as the frontrunner, Torres is coy. “The mayor’s race is wide open. Anyone who claims to have it figured out is lying.” He goes on to affirm “It is full of more than one credible candidate.”

“To be clear, I never announced that I wasn’t going to be in the squad.” Torres says, referring to ‘The Squad’ of United States Congress, composed of Congresswomen Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a fellow New Yorker, Ayanna Pressley, Ilhan Omar, and Rashida Tlaib. With new young progressive politicians like Torres joining the fray, claims of expanding membership are common. Torres, along with the aforementioned Mondaire Jones, as well as Congresswoman Cori Bush, Congresswoman Marie Newman, and Congressman Jamaal Brown are commonly referred to as impending members.

Instead, Torres clarifies, “I would never issue an announcement that I would not be a part of something. That would be an odd thing to do. Whenever I’m asked about the squad, I simply state that I’m my own person and I prefer to be judged on the basis of my own story and my own record, on my own terms.” He goes on to assert he is willing to work with “anyone and everyone in the service of delivering to the people of the South Bronx. That is my highest priority.” Torres is clear in this declaration that he is willing to work with more conservative members of his own party or the Republican party in hopes of progress.

On a future in politics, Torres affirmed his intent to serve the people in the moment and to “let the dice fall where they may” regarding the future. When asked what wisdom he would impart to a younger generation, Congressman Torres says “We are all only as strong as the support we have in our lives and be grateful for the supporters you have. The friends and family. I would not be here today if not for the friendship of people who believed in me more than I believed in myself. Know who those people are and value them and be grateful for them.”

Update as of 1/14/21, Congressman Ritchie Torres has formally endorsed former presidential candidate Andrew Yang for mayor of New York City. This comes just a day after Andrew Yang announced his campaign in a video titled ‘Why I’m Running,’ which features Torres in it.

Billionaires Gain, Workers Feel Pain

Half a year into a paralyzing pandemic that has cost millions of Americans their livelihoods and lives, the nation’s 643 billionaires have racked up $845 billion in collective wealth gains, a 29% leap since March 18. America’s billionaires reached this startling milestone of wealth accumulation even as special federal relief was drying up for millions of unemployed workers and for hard-pressed state and local governments struggling to provide vital services. Billionaire figures are from Forbes analyzed in a new report by Americans for Tax Fairness (ATF) and the Institute for Policy Studies (IPS).

Between March 18—the rough start date of the pandemic shutdown, when most federal and state economic restrictions were in place—and Sept. 15, the total net worth of the nation’s billionaires rose from $2.95 trillion to $3.8 trillion (see table below and this spreadsheet of all billionaires). That works out to gains of $141 billion a month, $32 billion a week, or $4.7 billion a day. Forbes’ annual billionaires report was published March 18, 2020, and the real-time data was collected Sept. 15 from the Forbes website.

Needless to say, ordinary workers did not fare as well. From mid-March to mid-August, the collective work income of rank-and-file private-sector employees—all hours worked times the hourly wages of the entire bottom 82% of the workforce—declined by 4.4.%, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics data.

In fact, this billionaires’ bonanza occurred against a general backdrop of working-class pain:

The stock market in which billionaires have much of their money invested dropped sharply in the month before the pandemic lockdown. But the six months of gains that followed were not merely a reversal of those losses: billionaires are also $680 billion, or 22%, richer today than they were in February 2019, the release date of the most recent previous Forbes annual report (see table below).

“Every candidate in this campaign season, from presidential hopeful down, who’s pledging to lead us out of the coronavirus crisis must address this stark divergence between the nation’s wealthiest elite and their struggling fellow citizens,” said Frank Clemente, executive director of Americans for Tax Fairness. “The answer starts with creating a fair share tax system that narrows obscene wealth gaps and raises the trillions of dollars needed to address the present emergency and invest in our families and communities over the long-term.”

“The billionaire economy has been turbocharged by policymakers who are now stalling on relief for the real economy,” said Chuck Collins, director of the Institute for Policy Studies’ Program on Inequality and co-author of the report “Billionaire Bonanza 2020.” “The difference is stark between profits for billionaires and the widespread economic misery in our nation. Clearly, the priorities of our elected officials in Washington, DC are completely upside down.”

DATA ON THE WEALTH OF U.S. BILLIONAIRES AT 6 MONTHS & 20 MONTHS AVAILABLE HERE

Even among billionaires, wealth is highly concentrated. Roughly $400 billion, or only a little less than half of the total gains, were captured by just the 15 wealthiest on the billionaires list. The top three gainers alone—Jeff Bezos, Mark Zuckerberg and Elon Musk—enjoyed fully 16% of the spoils, or a collective wealth surge of $137 billion. The total wealth of these three—$403 billion today—is nearly three times the $1.5 trillion in total wealth held by the bottom half of the population, or 165 million Americans. One billionaire from Michigan, Dan Gilbert of Quicken Loans, saw his wealth increase an astonishing 672%, growing from $6.5 billion to $50.2 billion.

The $845 billion wealth gain by 643 billionaires over the past six months far exceeds the:

Low-wage workerspeople of color and women have suffered disproportionately in the combined medical and economic crises because of long-standing racial and gender disparities. Billionaires are overwhelmingly white men.

House Democrats passed a relief bill back in May that offered a lifeline to Americans not sharing in the billionaires’ good fortune during the pandemic. Among its provisions:

All of the above data is available in one table here.

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) have introduced legislation for a 60% tax on the pandemic wealth gains of billionaires between March 18 and the end of the year and use the proceeds to help working Americans cover healthcare costs.

Donald Trump Is Deliberately Distorting What Ilhan Omar Says About America

During President Trump’s attack on Rep. Ilhan Omar  he said: “And she looks down with contempt on the hard-working Americans, saying that ignorance is pervasive in many parts of this country.” Trump directly quoted an interview Omar did with national affairs correspondent John Nichols on the inaugural episode of Next Left, The Nation’s new podcast where politics gets personal with the next generation of leading progressive politicians.

Nichols is available for comment from Madison, WI, to explain how Omar’s comments were entirely mischaracterized and how, ironically, Trump is reaffirming Omar’s critique.

“It’s an interesting dynamic,” says Nichols. “What Omar was actually talking about was the way in which politicians, in this case Republican politicians, manipulate information to achieve political ends. And about her interest in countering the misinformation. If anything, Omar was putting her faith in the power of information, and dialogue, with people who do not share her views. She’s talking about challenging the politicians who foster misconceptions about refugees, and about presenting information that might counter those misconceptions—not about insulting voters.”

At the time of its airing, Omar’s Next Left episode was widely picked up by conservative media from Breitbart to FOX—with headlines like “Ilhan Omar: ‘Ignorance Is Really Pervasive in Many Parts of This Country’” and “Ilhan Omar on Trump voters: ‘Ignorance really is pervasive in many parts of this country” and “Ilhan Omar insults Republican voters: ‘Ignorance really is pervasive in many parts of this country.’”—which is likely how it came to the attention of the president and/or his staff. Nichols can also speak to how this right-wing echo chamber misinforms the president’s worldview.

In the actual interview, Omar said:

The Republicans are really good at misinformation and sort of really reorganizing facts to sort of paint a picture that really eventually is not rooted in fact…. And so it is not that they might not be knowledgeable about [resettlement programs], but they use it as a tool to stir up hate and division. And ignorance really is pervasive in many parts of, of this country. And as someone who was raised by educators, I really like to inform people about things that they might be ignorant to, willingly or unwillingly.

In that same interview, Omar told Nichols:

There’s a reason that I got elected to be in Congress and it has nothing to do with the fact that I’m a refugee, an immigrant Muslim or woman, or Black woman. It’s because I am someone who has a particular lens about how we approach policy domestically and internationally and to many of the people here my approach is more threatening to them. And I think for them it is more pleasant for me to just be seen as like this person who, you know, is sort of like an example of like hope still being alive, which is wonderful. But I’m someone who is agitated about things, the way things work here. I’m someone who believes that Congress needs to be beholden to the people and not special interests, that we have to be consistent in our values, whether they are domestically or internationally, and that fighting for prosperity shouldn’t be that hard. We don’t have to settle.

ABOUT: From the grassroots to the ballot box, we are witnessing an explosion of progressive political energy. New candidates are running for offices high and low—and they’re winning. In Next Left, a new podcast from The Nation hosted by national-affairs correspondent John Nichols, these insurgent politicians let us into their lives, tell us

their stories, and explain how they plan to change our country for the better. New episodes air every Tuesday.

Founded by abolitionists in 1865, The Nation has chronicled the breadth and depth of political and cultural life from the debut of the telegraph to the rise of Twitter, serving as a critical, independent, and progressive voice in American journalism.