DSA Weekly

The Implications of Legal Torture

By John L. Elwell

With Donald Trump’s repeated attempts at executive orders to halt the Refugee Resettlement Program and to halt immigration from certain majority Muslim nations, the focus of many (and rightly so) has been centered on that front. Daily news images of refugees, their families, and the protests which took place at what seems like every major airport have shown this new administration that the opposition is real and that it is strong. But with all the attention focused on those executive orders, a secondary piece of news has largely been able to pass by without much attention from the media; and that is our new president’s feelings about torture. President Trump’s views on the subject, in combination with the similar views held by Supreme Court nominee Neil M. Gorsuch, should be of extraordinary concern to us all.

When I was a senior in college, my roommates and I had a fairly large cardboard sign that covered the entire front window of our apartment. On this sign, in giant black Sharpie block letters, were written the words “Torture Creates Terrorists.” It was a heady decision for a group of young, privileged, white males who considered themselves, if not yet radicals or even progressives, at the very least solid liberals. It was 2009, Barack Obama had just become president, and we patiently awaited the withdrawal of United States troops from Afghanistan and Iraq, the closing of Guantanamo Bay, and the passage of healthcare reform. After eight years of a second Bush presidency, some of us considered this the dawn of a new liberal U.S. and we, as naïve college students, wanted to brand ourselves as part of that new U.S.

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Changing the Conversation: Saving the Soul of America, 1967

By Maurice Isserman

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Fifty years ago, on April 4, 1967, Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered an impassioned speech at the Riverside Church in Manhattan. In eloquence and power, it matched the one he gave at the Lincoln Memorial in 1963. Unlike that earlier (and better remembered) effort, his topic was not civil rights but the war in Vietnam, an ever-escalating conflict that had killed nearly 20,000 American servicemen since 1963, along with hundreds of thousands of Vietnamese, North and South, military and civilian. 

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Equal Pay Day – 2017

By Bill Barclay

April 4, 2017, is the day when we’ll reach the point in 2017 at which time the typical woman (receiving median pay) in the United States will, when she adds the amount she was paid in 2016 to the amount she has been paid year-to-date, get the same amount of income that her male counterpart (receiving median pay) got in 2016. This is called “Equal Pay Day” and has been designated since 1996 by the National Committee on Pay Equity to call attention to the gender disparity in wages.

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East Bay DSA and the California Single-Payer Campaign

By Simon Brown, Sam Hughes, Mia Lehrer and Jamie Gardner

Immediately after the 2016 presidential election, the California Nurses Association (CNA) jump-started a campaign to win single-payer healthcare in California. This February, the East Bay chapter of Democratic Socialists of America decided to join the nurses and make the Healthy California campaign our organization’s central fight.

Within a month, our chapter held a preliminary canvassing event to train a dozen canvassing captains. Then we multiplied our capacity and held a second event three weeks later with more than 160 volunteers. These volunteers — mostly first-time canvassers — spread throughout the East Bay to educate the community about the single-payer system and mobilize supporters in favor of SB 562. Nearly 1,000 East Bay residents have already signed up to support single payer. After a few hours door-knocking, one volunteer reported, “I learned there are two kinds of people: people who aren’t home, and socialists.”

That’s why we’re holding a third canvass this Saturday, April 1st that we expect to be even bigger. Door-to-door advocacy for single payer gives DSA an opportunity to talk to the public about healthcare policy in a distinctly socialist way. Neighborhood-by-neighborhood we’re organizing a base that’s defined not by a one-off single issue, but by a vision of overturning the ruling class in the long term.

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Growing the Grassroots

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Moumita Ahmed talks with Jessie Mannisto

Moumita Ahmed, cofounder of People for Bernie and its successor, Millennials for Revolution, is one of the thousands who have joined DSA since the end of Bernie Sanders’s presidential campaign. We caught up with Ahmed to see what the rest of us can learn from her experiences—as an immigrant, as a working-class woman of color, and as a leader of a grassroots movement.—JM

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The Scandal of Vast Inequality in Retirement Pay

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By Lawrence Wittner

Cato the Elder, a Roman senator and historian, once remarked:  “Cessation of work is not accompanied by cessation of expenses.”  For centuries, retirees have been aware of this unfortunate fact, which led them to demand and, in many cases, secure old age pensions to help provide financial security during their “golden years.”  But as indicated in a recently-released report by the Institute for Policy Studies (IPS), the financial security of retiring corporate CEOs is far, far greater than the financial security of average Americans.

According to the extensively researched IPS report, A Tale of Two Retirements, 100 corporate CEOs possess company retirement funds totaling $4.7 billion―an amount equivalent to the entire retirement savings of 41 percent of U.S. families (50 million families, including 116 million Americans).  The retirement funds of these 100 CEOs are also equivalent to those of 75 percent of Latino families, of 59 percent of African-American families, of 55 percent of female-headed households, and of 44 percent of white working class households.

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Radicals for our Time: The DSA Vision

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By Jared Abbott

Thanks to Bernie Sanders’s presidential campaign and Donald Trump’s election as president, DSA’s membership has nearly tripled over the past year. Sanders brought the “S” word out of the closet, and Trump sent thousands of people in search of an effective organization both to fight the right and to push forward with Sanders’s political revolution.

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Sacramento Marchers Demand State Sanctuary Law

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By Duane Campbell

Over 1,500 marchers from around California descended on the Capitol on Wednesday March 15, to support the passage of SB 54: The California Values Act, which would significantly prohibit local law enforcement from coordination with federal immigration agents. While many cities, counties, school districts and universities have sanctuary policies, this bill would make such policies state law and shield many immigrants from mass deportation efforts of the federal authorities. The bill is strongly opposed by the Association of County Sheriffs who manage county jails and receive federal funds for their cooperation. 

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