Open Thread: Another Worthy Battle Entered…

Supplementary, from the ever-excellent Mr. Charles P. Pierce:

Labor Day is a good time to think about the courts because it was in the courts that organized labor was most effectively crushed in this country, and it was in the courts that the way was cleared for it to flourish, and, it appears that the courts are being set up to crush it again.

From 1897 until approximately 1937—the end date is a matter of some dispute—the court’s relation to labor was defined by the horrendous decision in Lochner v. New York. Citing “freedom of contract” as a constitutional right, the decision was used through the decade to strike down all manner of regulations touching on business large and small. (Lochner itself was about working conditions in bakeries.) Unions, of course, came along with the deal. In Adair v. United States, the Court struck down a law that would have made it illegal for a company to fire employees for trying to organize.

Make no mistake. There is a strong strain of modern conservatism that is openly nostalgic for the Lochner Era; Rand Paul made the case a part of his campaign for president in 2016…

In the history of this country, there has not been an expansion of the middle-class without a strong, vibrant union presence. That doesn’t change just because factories move to Mexico, or because of robots. There simply is no other way for wages to rise generally other than having the people receiving those wages bargain collectively for them. That Labor Day is still a holiday at all, I guess, is something for which we can give thanks. The attack on labor itself begins again on Tuesday.

Long Read: “Ethnicity not a factor in Elizabeth Warren’s rise in law”

Despite what you might think about the “liberal” newspaper here in the People’s Republic, the Boston Globe has not always been sympathetic to Elizabeth Warren. But even if she hasn’t decided whether to run for higher office in 2020, the Globe has apparently decided she will, or should. Reporter Annie Linskey — again, not necessarily a friend to liberals, or to other women — did the in-depth reporting on the slur that will follow Warren like birtherism followed another Democrat:

The 60-plus Harvard Law School professors who filed into an auditorium-style room on the first floor of Pound Hall on that February 1993 afternoon had a significant question to answer: Should they offer a job to Elizabeth Warren?

The atmosphere was a little fraught. Outside the hall, students held a silent vigil to demand the law school add more minorities and women to a faculty dominated by white men.

The discussion among Harvard professors inside that room is supposed to remain a secret, but it’s still being dissected a quarter of a century later because the resulting vote set Warren on her way to becoming a national figure and a favored target for conservative critics, among them, notably and caustically, President Trump.

Was Warren on the agenda because, as her critics say, she had decided to self-identify as a Native American woman and Harvard saw a chance to diversify the law faculty? Did she have an unearned edge in a hugely competitive process? Or did she get there based on her own skill, hard work, and sacrifice?

The question, which has hung over Warren’s public life, has an answer.

In the most exhaustive review undertaken of Elizabeth Warren’s professional history, the Globe found clear evidence, in documents and interviews, that her claim to Native American ethnicity was never considered by the Harvard Law faculty, which voted resoundingly to hire her, or by those who hired her to four prior positions at other law schools. At every step of her remarkable rise in the legal profession, the people responsible for hiring her saw her as a white woman.

The Globe examined hundreds of documents, many of them never before available, and reached out to all 52 of the law professors who are still living and were eligible to be in that Pound Hall room at Harvard Law School. Some are Warren’s allies. Others are not. Thirty-one agreed to talk to the Globe — including the law professor who was, at the time, in charge of recruiting minority faculty. Most said they were unaware of her claims to Native American heritage and all but one of the 31 said those claims were not discussed as part of her hire. One professor told the Globe he is unsure whether her heritage came up, but is certain that, if it did, it had no bearing on his vote on Warren’s appointment…

Warren, in a lengthy interview that started in the sparsely decorated Penn Quarter condo where she stays in Washington and ended in her hideaway office in the US Capitol, opened up for the first time about her claims to Native American heritage. She explained that it was passed on to her as a fact of family lore and that a generation of women in her family were aging, and dying, in the late 1980s. As they faced mortality, Warren said, they focused more on the family’s American Indian ancestry, and the impression stuck with her.

Her grandmother, who shared many stories about ties to the Cherokee and Delaware tribes, died in 1969. Her daughters — Warren’s aunts — then took on the central place in the family. “As the sisters became the matriarchs, they began to talk more about their background and about their mother’s background,” Warren explained…

But this year, as she campaigns for reelection to the Senate and considers a 2020 presidential bid, she has taken a major step: releasing the contents of her university personnel files to the Globe after six years of rebuffing requests for them.

“You have what I have,” Warren said, pledging that she had turned over every record in her possession about her years as a teacher at five different law schools and a stint visiting at another. “My family is my family, but my background played no role in my getting hired anywhere.”…


.. Warren said she had always identified closely with her mother’s side of the family: a sprawling and rowdy group with scant resources who looked after one another, and who, according to family lore, have Cherokee and Delaware blood.

When her grandmother died in 1969, Warren’s mother and three aunts led the family and further impressed on her their proud Cherokee connection.

Then in the late 1980s, around the time that Warren began identifying professionally as Native American, she began losing them, too. Her aunt Mae Reed Masterson died in October 1989. Her aunt Alice Ann Reed Carnes died in August 1990. That left her mother and her aunt Bess Veneck, (aka Aunt Bee), who lived with Warren and helped her raise her children.

The two women in my life who have always been my guides through the world began to focus even more on the past,” Warren explained.

This is also when Warren was leaving the West behind, for good. And she wasn’t sure she wanted to try and fit in to the new East Coast culture.

“When I get to Penn and Harvard, I look around and think this is not a club that I’m likely to be able to join,” said Warren, who noted she was a woman, a mother, and from a humble background and from Oklahoma. “I had different heritage than most of the people there. . . . You can try to keep your head down or say: This is who I am. Different from the rest of you, but this is who I am.”
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Good Government Open Thread: Senator Elizabeth Warren, Still A Model for Us All

Per CNN:

Sen. Elizabeth Warren unveiled a series of new planks Tuesday in her wider plan to stem corporate influence on government and root out corruption in Washington…

Warren’s plan, which would impose a lifetime ban on appointed officials from taking lobbying jobs, is dead on arrival in a Republican-controlled Congress. But it is likely to influence the talking points of other Democrats and, should she run for higher office in 2020, be a staple of her campaign pitch.

In a speech at the National Press Club, Warren called for Congress to “end lobbying as we know it” and not allow “the rich and powerful buy their way into congressional offices.”

“Our national crisis of faith in government boils down to this simple fact: People don’t trust their government to do the right thing because they think government works for the rich, the powerful and the well-connected and not for the American people,” Warren said. “And here’s the kicker: They’re right.”…

Among the more specific new rules Warren is proposing in her Anti-Corruption and Public Integrity Act are a prohibition on elected and senior agency officials owning or trading stock while in office; the livestreaming of audio from federal appellate court proceedings; a requirement to make public a record of all meetings between lobbyists and public officials; and perhaps most dramatically, the creating of a new independent agency to enforce new and existing ethics laws.
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Late Night Open Thread: Personal Politics

Saw my political idol Sen. Elizabeth Warren in person for the first time this evening, since she was holding a town hall (her thirty-second, she said) at a time and place which made it impossible for me not to succumb to vulgar curiosity. And I’m very glad we went — even the Spousal Unit, who is far less of a political animal than I am, was impressed and heartened by her performance. She must be a wonderful teacher; she kept her audience of 500-600 continually engaged, responded to every question asked with relevant information, and never lost sight of the larger arc. Pretty good turnout for a Wednesday evening in August, too!

First Sen. Warren spoke for about 40 minutes; then there were half a dozen questioners, chosen by lottery ticket. The questions covered a fair sample of the current Big Topics; student debt (she’s *very* invested in taking the profit sector out of student loans, of course), the rapidly increasing cost of prescription drugs (she explicitly used the word corruption several times in that response).

Another older lady asked how she could ‘not despair about Roe v. Wade’; Sen. Warren led us through the fight to save the ACA right after Trump’s inauguration (‘I have that image seared on the back of my eyeballs — whenever I think about giving up, I remember seeing him there, and that re-energizes me’), pointing out how collective action by individuals made *just* enough of a difference to peal away three Repubs and save “our” healthcare, and stressing that the only way to keep Brent Kavanaugh off the Supreme Court is to commit the same level of sustained effort before the GOP can gavel him through.

Then came the inevitable True Progressive (I was kinda surprised we only got the one TP, but this is not a chic hipster town, yet). He spent rather more time than any of the previous questioners took in total to explain his impeccable credentials (‘Early supporter — wrote you so many checks!’) before sharing his laundry list of complaints. She congratulated Scott Brown when he was appointed ambassador to New Zealand! She called Mitch McConnell ‘my colleague’! Worst of all, she wasn’t On The Front Lines, calling for IMPEACHMENT NOW!…. How could “we” ever trust her again, after such behavior!?!

And Warren handled him impeccably. She said she was happier to have Scotty in New Zealand than in New England, and then she led us through the steps necessary for impeachment: It’s the House that has to take a vote in favor; only then can the Senate proceed. But, she stressed, the first step is to allow Robert Mueller to complete a full, thorough, and fair investigation; calling for impeachment before investigation is not a wise path for either Democrats *or* Republicans just yet!

(That got the second-biggest round of applause for the evening.)

The final question was from a middle-school teacher, who said that ‘even her students’ wanted to know what they could do, right now. Senator Warren handled this wisely, too — she reiterated that we all need to be registering voters, holding signs, knocking on doors, sharing information & listening ‘even with people who might not agree with us on everything.’ That mini-speech drew a standing ovation.

Afterwards, it had been arranged for anyone who wanted to take a selfie with the Senator… but I’d estimate there were almost a hundred people lining up for their chance by the time we left the auditorium, and I’m actually quite shy in person, so you’ll have to take my word.

Breaking: Sharice Davids Wins Her Primary!

… and I’m slap-happy, but at least now I can sleep soundly.

Davids, the winner of a six-way primary race, would be the first Native American woman elected to Congress if she prevails over U.S. Rep. Kevin Yoder, the incumbent Republican from Overland Park, in the general election.

She also would be the first openly LGBT person to represent Kansas at either the federal or state level.

Davids won Tuesday’s hotly contested and crowded Democratic primary by capturing 37 percent of the vote, edging out her closest competitor in Brent Welder, who received 34 percent, by 2,088 votes…

Yoder, who coasted through his primary contest on Tuesday, has won Kansas’ 3rd congressional district by double digits in every election going back to 2010.

But Democrats are optimistic about their chances in the suburban Kansas City district, which Democrat Hillary Clinton won in the 2016 presidential race…

Among those in the crowd was Jeff Harris, a member of the Westwood City Council, who first met Davids two months ago.

“When I think about who I want representing me, I’m interested in someone who can set a goal and motivate themselves to achieve it,” Harris said. “The other reason I’m supporting her: You know, never say vote for someone just based on their characteristics or their identity, but that experience of being a woman dominated in a world by men, of being a lesbian, of being Native American, she has had to learn about how to navigate spaces where she didn’t have power, where she didn’t have control.”

He continued: “That takes a lot of motivation and fortitude. When I think about who I want representing me, it’s a person with that type of experience and that type of strength.”…

Goal Thermometer