Experts talk about how to beat the Kavanaugh nomination

By Candace Goldman

On August 2, 2018, Indivisible East Bay took part in a community meeting in Berkeley to discuss Trump’s nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the United States Supreme Court, and actions we can take to prevent his approval by the Senate. IEB co-sponsored the meeting with the California Civil Rights Coalition, Equal Justice Society, The Center for Independent Living, and People For the American Way.

The evening was emceed by Eva Paterson, a long-time civil rights advocate, and speakers included Leslie Proll with the NAACP, Amy Everitt of NARAL Pro-Choice California, Raymundo Jacquez III from Centro Legal de la Raza, Noreen Farrell of Equal Rights Advocates, Dan Roth with the American Constitution Society, and IEB’s own Linh Nguyen, who co-leads our Judiciary Team.  Linh did a masterful job of informing the gathering about what IEB and the Judiciary Team have been doing. She really engaged the audience and was an inspiring example of what we can do when we band together to take action.  Great job, Linh – and thank you!

The speakers addressed the dangers a Kavanaugh confirmation would represent – and they are legion – and also the actions we can take to defeat his nomination.  Everyone’s rights and interests are at risk with this potential swing position on the Supreme Court – from women’s health to labor protections, from shredding Executive accountability to continuing environmental destruction to endangering the lives of immigrants.  Each speaker emphasized that it is NOT a foregone conclusion that Kavanaugh will be approved, but we need to keep a laser beam on the nomination and ramp up the pressure to defeat him.

What you can do:

  • Tell Senators Feinstein and Harris that you want them to vote NO on Kavanaugh in the Judiciary Committee; and that if the nomination gets out of committee and to the full Senate, you want them to vote NO and hold all other Democrats and swing voters to do the same
    • Sen. Dianne Feinstein: (email); (415) 393-0707 • DC: (202) 224-3841
    • Sen. Kamala Harris: (email); (415) 355-9041 • DC: (202) 224-3553
  • Call all the people you know in the states whose senators are on the Judiciary Committee and urge them to tell their senators to vote NO on Kavanaugh in committee and, if necessary, in the full Senate
  • Ask all your friends to contact their senators – especially swing votes like Senator Murkowski of Alaska and Senator Collins of Maine – and tell them to vote NO if the nomination reaches the full Senate.
  • Read our articles here, here, here, here, and here (wow, we’ve been busy!) for more info, suggested call scripts, and actions you need to take.
  • Make your voice heard: Unite for Justice has called for nationwide rallies to oppose Kavanaugh on Sunday, August 26. Find an event near you at this link, or attend NARAL Pro-Choice California’s event from 1-3 PM, San Francisco Civic Center.
  • Educate yourself: the IEB All Members Meeting will also be held on August 26 from 1-3 PM at Sports Basement, Berkeley. Linh will present an updated version of the Kavanaugh presentation she made at the August 2 meeting. Please join us if you can – it’s important to educate ourselves about this unacceptable nominee who would serve for life (and he’s only 53 years old!) if confirmed. We need to keep the pressure intense to stop this dangerous nomination.

 

At Netroots Nation with Thousands of Other Progressives: Feeling our Grassroots Power

By Nancy Latham

Netroots Visual Recording, by Nancy Latham
Visual recording

At the beginning of August, I traveled to New Orleans with thousands of other activists to attend the 2018 annual Netroots Nation conference. Each day we chose from approximately a gajillion panels and trainings. At the panels we learned about how to build diverse coalitions, what it means to bring race and class narratives together, why we’ve been thinking about GOTV (Get Out the Vote) in the wrong way – and so much more. The trainings covered everything anyone would want to know about organizing and building power, from attracting volunteers to planning protests to messaging (and way more that I have forgotten).

Netroots, photo by Nancy Latham
Hidden Figures: How Women of Color are Making History in the Midterms, a panel discussion featuring women of color who are leading the way to progressive victories in key states

After drinking from a firehose of knowledge during the day, we flocked each night to the massive hall with its stage draped in lush curtains to hear keynote speeches by Democratic Party luminaries like Kamala Harris, Elizabeth Warren, and Cory Booker, and rising stars like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Cynthia Nixon, and Chokwe Lumumba. (Fun fact: I learned there that the cool people call Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez “AOC.”) The crowd was thrilled that no one there was heeding any centrist hand-wringing about moving too far to the Left. As speaker after speaker exhorted us to be bold in centering racial justice and economic justice and – for God’s sake – to stop apologizing for our party’s foundational principles, each was met with thundering applause.

Echoing the GOTV trainings that warned us about progressive voters who stay home when they are uninspired by Democrats’ lack of boldness, AOC reminded us that “swing voters don’t vote for the person who is moderate enough, the person who is most timid, the person who backs down from their starting point – the swing voter votes for authenticity.” And Bill de Blasio shouted to a cheering crowd: “This is an extraordinary moment. … We have to see ourselves as authors of an emerging majority. … Progressives: it’s our time!”

It sure feels like it’s our time. Since the dark days right after the 2016 election, we have been organizing our hearts out, building our power – and it’s working. People who just a year ago might have been nervous to lead with social justice messages are now proudly proclaiming those values. “Let’s speak truth,” Kamala Harris said. “That if it wasn’t clear before Charlottesville, it is clear now – racism is real in this country, and we need to deal with that. Sexism is real in this country; let’s deal with it. Anti-Semitism, homophobia, transphobia are real in this country; let’s deal with it.” These sentiments flowed throughout every speech – because the activists have demanded it. And we have told elected officials and those seeking office that we would work for them – we would mobilize to get out the vote and we would have their backs on the issues. They know they need us, so they are listening to us.

It was so refreshing to have racial justice front and center. While some of the coverage of the conference suggested that the message was “screw the white working class Trump voters – we’re done with them,” that was not what I heard at all. Rather, we are fighting for everyone devastated by decades of stagnating median wages and skyrocketing inequality. As AOC says, we “fight for social economic, and racial justice for all working class Americans.” We have to be honest and forthright about that – we can be true to our values, inspire our base, and do the right thing for everyone no matter who they voted for, all at the same time. As we return to our principles of equity and justice, Obama-Trump voters may come home to the Democratic Party.

And even among our progressive brethren, we were pushed to do better. On the last night, the Black Ass Caucus took the stage, claimed space, and challenged Netroots leadership and everyone in the audience to see the ways in which people of color were still being marginalized. While the protest stretched many in the audience outside their comfort zones (me included), we were grateful to be called out: asked to live up to our principles more authentically. To see the whole protest, go here – and I encourage you to watch it a few times.

Ultimately, what is very clear is that it is not only morally wrong, but strategically unsound, to moderate our focus on the issues that will galvanize our base: people of color, young people, and white progressives. As the math shows, if we stick with our base and inspire them, we don’t need to worry about scaring off voters who will vote only for centrists. And as grassroots organizers, we need to keep doing what we’re doing: mobilizing, proudly proclaiming and reaffirming our progressive values, holding elected officials accountable, and owning our power.

Nancy Latham is on IEB’s Governing Committee, and is a passionate member of the Resistance. In her day job, she works with non-profits, foundations, and government agencies that support greater equity and justice through initiatives in youth development, education, housing, and community development.

Photos by Nancy Latham

July meeting with Sen. Feinstein’s State Director

By Janna Layton and Catya de Neergaard

On July 25, 2018, a group of Indivisible East Bay members held our regular meeting with Senator Feinstein’s state director, Sean Elsbernd. As usual, the talk ranged over a wide variety of subjects, and Sean gave detailed answers to a large number of questions.

IMMIGRATION

Family Separation, Reunification, and Detention

Sen. Feinstein’s Staffers’ Visit to the El Centro Detention Center:

  • Sean reports that two of Feinstein’s staff visited the El Centro detention center last week, where they witnessed horrible conditions:
    • One cell was over capacity by about 30 people
    • The only food item available for any meal is a bean and cheese burrito
    • Separated children did not even have mats
  • Both children and adults are held in El Centro
  • Staffers were not allowed to bring mobile phones or speak to detainees
  • Feinstein was deeply troubled by her staffers’ report, and contacted Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen.
  • Feinstein’s reaction to the visit was covered in this article by the San Diego Union Tribune.

Other Detention Centers:

  • Feinstein has not visited any detention centers and is not likely to. The detention centers are more likely to prepare ahead of time for a visit from Feinstein than they are for her staffers.
  • Staffers will visit all centers in CA to determine if what they saw at the El Centro facility is typical or a one-off. Feinstein wants this information before Judiciary Committee hearing.
  • Staff are going to the Yuba City detention center next week, but will have similar restrictions as in the El Centro center.
  • Several detention centers have cancelled their contracts with ICE.
    • It is important to note that detainees in those centers are not released, but transferred to different centers.

Other Issues:

  • In the 48 hours before our meeting, it was announced that hundreds of parents have been deported without their children.
    • The ACLU suspects many of these parents might not have gotten asylum hearings.
  • Senator Harris’s REUNITE Act – a Feinstein staffer wrote the bulk of this act, so Feinstein will likely eventually support it. 
    • However, Feinstein has been working on another, similar act that has the support of all Democratic senators, which she believes has a better chance of passing.
    • Sean is unsure if Senator Cruz is still talking with Feinstein re: her act, but if he is, it is only because of local resistance groups in Texas putting pressure on him.

Asylum Seekers

  • This has not been focused on as much because there are so many issues to be highlighted, and the public can only take so much.
  • The fact that Attorney General Sessions does not attend oversight hearings as he should has been has been overlooked.
  • Even some GOP moderates like Senator Rubio have disagreed on the Trump administration’s treatment of asylum-seekers from Central America

ICE

Appropriations Bill:

  • Feinstein voted against the bill in the Appropriations Committee
  • This might get brought up again in September
  • There is slim chance of a government shutdown. Senator McConnell and Congressman Ryan know how bad that would look. However, Trump might not care.

Splitting ICE:

  • Feinstein has not discussed this with Sean.
  • If done, it would likely be done by Sessions rather than legislature.
    • If Sessions does this, it might be because part of the group that wants to break off from ICE is a union that supported Trump.

Other:

  • Sean will follow up with Feinstein re: letter to Grassley

 

SOCIAL SAFETY NET

Health Care

  • Senator Feinstein spoke with Peter Lee in the Covered CA administration.  It is expected that Covered CA rates will go up sharply next year. This will give Senator Feinstein a platform for a strong message to wrap the ACA mess around the Republicans. Hurt in the pocketbook is going to wake people up to the message that Republicans broke healthcare. They need to fix it.
  • We have asked Feinstein frequently and continue to ask her to consider supporting the single payer system. Sean usually replies that such a bill, for example, the ‘Medicare for All Bill’ introduced by Senator Bernie Sanders, doesn’t currently have any hope of passing, so it is a low priority.

Housing/Homelessness

  • Senator Harris introduced The Rent Relief Act in the Senate on July 19, 2018.  There is already a similar bill in the House. Senator Feinstein joined Senator Harris in the introduction and will continue to touch base with Senator Harris about this bill. This bill is a big CA issue. 
  • IEB strongly supports the Rent Relief Act’s goal of giving low-income residents more federal support to pay for housing. Indivisible can to help this bill along by getting more co-sponsors.
  • Senator Feinstein is working on a new plan for cities and counties to apply for a new federal grant program to address homelessness. There would be strict quality controls, for example, for low income housing. She is calling it her ‘first day’ bill because she plans to introduce it the first day of the new Congress (provided, of course, that she wins the election).
  • Possible housing solutions:
    • Senator Feinstein has visited or had her staff visit various ‘tiny homes’ and other solutions to homelessness.  
    • She has a binder listing the name and description of the shelters and other facilities for the homeless across the state.  She sees the scope and quality of solutions across the state.
    • There is no one size fits all solution for homelessness and the housing crisis.
  • One potential source of funding is the VA. The VA and various veterans’ assistance programs have pots of money.  Housing homeless veterans with the money could be considered a front end solution to prevent the medical catastrophes that come with homelessness.
  • The federal government and each county have surplus property that could be used to build low income housing.  There is a federal law to transfer surplus property. The feds have just transferred a big lot between 7th and 9th streets to the City of San Francisco for $1.

 

NATIONAL SECURITY AND FOREIGN AFFAIRS

Helsinki/Russia

  • There was a hearing that day in the Senate Formulations Committee with Secretary of State Pompeo testifying.
    • Feinstein is not on that committee, but she is anxious to talk to colleagues about how it went.
  • Feinstein does not think Russia will be an issue that sways Republicans, but trade. Last summer, Feinstein held a forum with farmers in the Central Valley. They said if trade issues continue until Labor Day, that will hurt their businesses. They invest their money into resources at the beginning of the year, so this is a big issue for them.
  • Efforts are being made by Intelligence to get info on what was said at the Summit, but it is unlikely that transcripts will be made public. Such transcripts have not been public for previous administrations.

Iran

  • Sean noted a Washington Post article that reported anonymous White House staffers have said Trump’s tweet was a distraction from North Korea.
  • Feinstein does not give his tweet much credence.
  • The Iran Deal is important to her, as she worked on it.
  • It is unlikely the Restricting First Use of Nuclear Weapons Act will go to the Senate floor or be amended to something.
  • Sean will talk with Feinstein re: Senator Merkley’s 2001 AUMF replacement

Election Security

  • Feinstein has been focusing on California’s election security with CA Secretary of State Alex Padilla, not nationally, because she is pragmatic about what she can accomplish.
  • Sean will check with her re: Wyden’s act.
  • It is important for local groups to reach out to their Board of Supervisors regarding election security.

Security Clearances

  • Feinstein thinks this is a distraction technique and not a big issue.
  • Some former officials have said they don’t need it anyway, and temporary clearances can be gained if needed.

Whistleblowers

  • Sean stated that Feinstein has always protected whistleblowers.

 

ENVIRONMENT

EPA Fuel Economy Waiver for CA

  • Feinstein is very aggressive on this, because she passed the laws that let CA do this.
  • She has lobbied extensively, including reaching out to Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao.
  • Advocacy groups need to elevate this issue.
    • One choice would be for consumers to demand car manufacturers continue to meet high fuel efficiency standards even if standards change.

Puerto Rico

  • We talked about the disaster in Puerto Rico in the context of the growing effects of climate change all over the country and asked if Feinstein would co-sponsor the Rebuilding Resilient Energy System Act to allow Puerto Rico and other disaster-affected areas (like our own state) to be rebuilt with greener and more resilient infrastructure; Sean said he would look up the bill and convey our request to the Senator.
  • Nationwide, Indivisible can help by writing lots more letters on the situation in Puerto Rico to their MOCs. Senator Bill Nelson of Florida would be a good person to lobby because he has 10 to 20K new Puerto Rican voters in his state.
  • Senator Feinstein will continue to advocate for Puerto Rico, but the Kavanaugh  nomination is her priority.
  • We thanked the Senator for co-sponsoring the Washington DC statehood bill and asked if Feinstein would introduce a Senate version of the Puerto Rico Admissions Act; Sean said she would not, because it isn’t going to happen in 2018.

 

JUDICIARY

Judicial Nominations

Supreme Court:

  • According to Sean, Senator Feinstein does not consider the proposal to request and view documents regarding Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh a “sinking ship.”
  • The Senator’s negotiations have been focused on these documents. They are important because they get Kavanaugh on the record and give insight on his positions. Some valuable documents have been found already.
  • Half a million dollars have been given each to Senators Feinstein and Grassley from the Rules Committee to research this. Feinstein is using the money to hire staff to research and comb through documents.
  • The GOP is trying avoid the Democrats pointing out the hypocrisy of their treatment of this SCOTUS nominee versus their treatment of Obama’s nominees
    • Schumer has video of Grassley demanding all papers on Kagan.
    • This tactic won’t change McConnell’s mind, but might affect Republican senators who are on the fence.

Court of Appeals:

  • The Senator’s focus has been on Kavanaugh, and Sean does not have a statement from her on Eric Murphy, nominated to the Sixth Circuit, or Ryan Nelson, nominated to the Ninth Circuit.

 

TALK TO YOUR GOVERNMENT

Town Hall

  • We want Sen. Feinstein to commit to hold a town hall after the election; Sean said that she would think about that after the election.

Join the meetings!

  • Indivisible East Bay meets with Sen. Feinstein’s key staff every month. Be part of our team! It’s a fascinating way to find out more about the things you care about. Meetings are announced in the IEB weekly newsletter; subscribe to the newsletter for this and more!

 

Photograph by Catya de Neergaard 

We Need to Save Wildlife. Again.

By Christina Tarr and Andrea Lum

Action deadline: September 24, 2018

A death knell rang on July 19 for hundreds of endangered animals and plants in the United States, as the Trump administration announced its plan to roll back two key provisions of the Endangered Species Act. The proposal by the Interior and Commerce departments, which are charged with protecting endangered wildlife, would end the practice of extending similar protections to species regardless of whether they are listed as endangered or threatened. Yes, this means polar bears. In the most brazenly anti-environmental/pro-business stance possible, the administration also wants to eliminate language that tells officials to ignore economic impacts when determining how wildlife should be protected.

The Endangered Species Act, passed in 1973, is an incredibly popular law, credited with bringing iconic species like the bald eagle, the grizzly bear, and the humpback whale back from the brink of extinction. It is also an important tool in the fight to protect our environment, useful for blocking or limiting coal mines, development, and oil and gas drilling. In a recent press release, the Center for Biological Diversity’s Brett Hartl stated: “These proposals would slam a wrecking ball into the most crucial protections for our most endangered wildlife. If these regulations had been in place in the 1970s, the bald eagle and the gray whale would be extinct today. If they’re finalized now, [Interior Secretary Ryan] Zinke will go down in history as the extinction secretary.”

What you can do:

Comment on the proposal: The comment period on this proposal opened on July 25. Please file your comments here by the deadline: September 24, 2018.

Some points you can include:

  • The Endangered Species Act, passed in 1973, is an incredibly popular law, credited with bringing species like the bald eagle, grizzly bear, and humpback whale back from the brink of extinction. It is also an important tool in the fight to protect our environment, useful for blocking or limiting coal mines, development, and oil and gas drilling. Even with the ESA in full force, however, there are indications that as many as one-third of America’s species are vulnerable, with one in five imperiled and at high risk of extinction.
  • This crisis extends well beyond species officially listed as endangered, and now includes many garden variety creatures from monarch butterflies to songbirds. Experts note that some 12,000 species across the country are “in need of conservation action.” Habitat loss and degradation, invasive species, disease, and chemical pollution are the leading wildlife threats. Climate change amplifies these threats. Changing climate and precipitation patterns will create new and increased risks of drought and flooding as sea level rise creeps up the coastlines. The effects on individual species remain mostly unknown, but are likely to ripple throughout ecosystems.
  • Now, with our wild places in decline, is not the time to start weighing the economic costs of development against the implementation of the Endangered Species Act. Nor do we have time to let threatened species become endangered before we move to act on their behalf. Reject these provisions whose only intent is to hobble the Endangered Species Act. We need an ESA acting in full force working to preserve our endangered wilderness, and the species with whom we share the planet.

Next, call your Members of Congress: Let them know that endangered species matter to you, thank them for their work in protecting endangered species, and urge them to continue to do so whenever they can. For example, in the 2018 Farm Bill, both Senators Dianne Feinstein and Kamala Harris stood against anti-environmental provisions. Our representatives all have good records: read about Representative Barbara Lee’s support for the environment and environmental justice here, and see her conservation scorecard here. See Representative Mark DeSaulnier’s conservation scorecard here, and Representative Eric Swalwell’s here. Call them using the same comments you adapted from the above scripts, or a slightly different one, like this:

My name is ____. My zip code is ____ and I’m a member of Indivisible East Bay. I’m calling to thank [Senator/Representative ______].

I’m calling because I’m very concerned about the proposed threats to the Endangered Species Act by the Trump Administration. The ESA, and all environmental legislation, is very important to me.

[Here’s an example, you can say something about your own experience with wildlife]: Seeing bald eagles nesting in Milpitas and peregrine falcons nesting on the Cal campus encourages me to believe that we can coexist with nature, but we have to work at it. When development and the resulting habitat loss is the chief danger to all wild life, I appreciate anything you can do to curb our destruction of wild species and wild places. We are lucky to be close to so much wilderness in the Bay Area, but we have to work to ensure that wild places persist, both here and everywhere around the country. Thank you.

[For Senators only:  Thank you for working to keep dangerous anti-environmental riders out of must-pass legislation like the Farm Bill and the Defense Authorization Act.]

  • Sen. Dianne Feinstein: (email); (415) 393-0707 • DC: (202) 224-3841
  • Sen. Kamala Harris: (email); (415) 355-9041 • DC: (202) 224-3553
  • Rep. Mark DeSaulnier: (email); (510) 620-1000 • DC: (202) 225-2095
  • Rep. Barbara Lee: (email); (510) 763-0370 • DC: (202) 225-2661
  • Rep. Eric Swalwell: (email); (510) 370-3322 • DC: (202) 225-5065

 

Christina Tarr is a local librarian with an interest in birds and wild places. Andrea Lum is on the IEB newsletter and website team, and is the IEB Volunteer Team lead.
Photograph of bald eagle by Patrick Brinksma on Unsplash

Teach Our Voters Well

By the Indivisible East Bay Voter Rights and Election Integrity team

Action deadline – Sunday August 5

AB 2188 (Social Media Disclose Act) and AB 3115 (Jails: Voter Education Program) are scheduled for hearings on Monday August 6 before the State Senate Appropriations Committee, their last stop before being heard by the full Senate.

Please call the Appropriations Committee chair and vice chair by end of day Sunday, August 5: 

You can mention both bills during your call. What to say:

My name is ____. My zip code is ____ and I’m a member of Indivisible East Bay. I’m calling to ask the Senator to vote YES on two important voter bills. First, about AB 2188 –  we shouldn’t be subject to political ads on social media like Facebook without knowing who paid for them. Free speech should be public and accountable.

Second, about AB 3115 – we should do everything we can to reduce barriers to voter registration. Increasing voter education and voting access to thousands of people in California jails will improve civic participation and public safety, and it’s the right thing to do. 

I strongly urge Senator ____ to vote yes on AB 2188 and AB 3115. Thank you.

Are you interested in working with the IEB Voter Rights and Election Integrity team? Send us an email or join the voting-issues channel on IEB’s Slack.

Graphic © California Clean Money Campaign

Let’s See Your Papers, Brett Kavanaugh

Call Script

Hi, my name is _____ and my zip code is ____. I’m a member of Indivisible East Bay. I’m calling to support the Senator’s request for Kavanaugh’s documents from his work with the Bush-Cheney administration and Ken Starr’s investigation. It’s possible that the White House chose Kavanaugh as the Supreme Court nominee for reasons not yet apparent to most of us. We need a far more complete record for this candidate. I’m asking the Senator to stand firm in her request for these documents and to insist on their thorough review before Kavanaugh is examined before the Judiciary Committee. Without a complete record, the nomination hearing could be a travesty or a rubber stamp for Trump’s nominee.

Background:

Donald Trump’s second Supreme Court nominee, Brett Kavanaugh, has rightfully been called the “Forrest Gump of Republican Politics”: he worked with Ken Starr, served as the principal drafter of the Starr Report investigating Bill Clinton, worked for candidate George Bush during the Bush-Gore Florida recount, and worked in the George W. Bush White House. During those years he created a vast, but non-public, paper trail of his views on important issues. That’s critical, because he may have been nominated precisely because of those largely non-public views. Even his public views on the Presidency are extreme, as he once wrote that Congress should exempt the President from criminal prosecution and investigation while in office, including from questioning by criminal prosecutors or defense lawyers. Read our earlier article on various reasons why Brett Kavanaugh’s record is so disturbing.

At his Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing, Kavanaugh will likely dodge answering how he would decide specific future cases or how he views or would rule on specific issues. Judicial nominees often do that under cover of avoiding making “pledges, promises or commitments…inconsistent with…impartial” judging under Canon 5(A)(3)(d)(1) of the Model Code of Judicial Conduct; but it also conveniently provides plausible deniability for Senators voting to confirm him. Without a written record, they can claim they are “shocked” at his future rulings. This is particularly critical given the Republicans’ narrow majority in the Senate and the Trump administration’s resulting recent withdrawal of another judicial nominee after his racist writings as an undergraduate became public.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer has urged Democrats not to meet individually with Kavanaugh until Kavanaugh’s past written work has been produced. Senator Dianne Feinstein, the highest ranking Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee, has demanded that the White House and Kavanaugh produce his past written work to be reviewed before any confirmation hearing. Indivisible East Bay has supported Senator Feinstein in her position (and in her hiring counsel specifically to vet Kavanaugh’s record). Republicans continue to oppose the scope of the request.

Please thank Senator Feinstein for her firm stance and call both her and Senator Harris, who is also on the Judiciary Committee, and ask them to insist that the White House and Kavanaugh turn over the documents he authored at the White House and while working for Ken Starr before the Judiciary Committee hearing.

By Dean Gloster. Dean is a former clerk at the U.S. Supreme Court who now writes novels. His debut YA, DESSERT FIRST, is out now.

Pour overs helping refugees in East Oakland

By Ted Lam

A hidden gem on the outskirts of East Oakland is doing amazing things to help refugees in the Bay Area. Refugees, asylum seekers with work permits, asylees, and special immigrant visa holders are taught critical customer service skills at the training center of Coffee 1951, a non-profit coffee company that trains and employs refugees to work in the coffee industry. The interesting name holds the key to their mission: “[i]n 1951 the United Nations first defined and set forth guidelines for the protection of refugees. These protections were further expanded in the 1967 Protocols giving the UNHCR [UN Refugee Agency] a global mandate.”

Last week I saw a posting looking for volunteers to be mock customers to help train Coffee 1951’s barista students and I signed up. More than a dozen volunteers showed up along with me. Melanie gave us a quick orientation, and we got lots of play money to start our morning. I went in and ordered a small black coffee from Michelle. I learned that it’s called a “pour over.” Michelle carefully wrote down my order then said, “That’ll be $3.50.” I gave her the the fake $5. She gave me change.

While waiting for my coffee I chatted with Shawnim of Coffee 1951 and Melanie, from Americorps. The barista students go through two weeks of training; that day’s event with mock customers was the students’ graduation from the program. The four students were supported behind the counter by Dee, the training program manager. The students came from different backgrounds. I overheard one was from Sri Lanka.

Coffee 1951 has a convenient location on Telegraph and Channing in Berkeley, and is popular with Cal students and many others. They’re planning a kiosk on Shattuck Ave next to the downtown Berkeley BART station in the near future. Although not all graduates of the program get hired at Coffee 1951’s cafe, they’re given the skills, and a certificate proving that, giving them a leg up when applying for barista jobs at other coffee shops.

Coffee 1951 photo by Ted Lam
Coffee 1951 baristas with their skills certificates

It was a full cafe experience. My pour over was very good, and all of the other “customers” also enjoyed themselves. The cafe was bright, comfortable, and had upbeat, mellow music. I chatted with practice customers Jenny, Daphne, Stephanie, and Gracia, who all seemed to enjoy the coffee and overall ambiance. The barista students were very friendly and helpful, and I saw pride in their customer service and accomplishment — Coffee 1951 can be very proud of their work.

I found this a very satisfying volunteer opportunity. If you’d like to learn more or want to volunteer, please check out Coffee 1951’s website at 1951coffee.com and click on “Contact” to let them know you’re interested.

Ted Lam is retired from the USCG and currently works as a civil engineer. Ted is a member of the Indivisible East Bay Governance Committee and is co-lead of the Indivisible CA-11 team. Photographs by Ted Lam.

Charade of a Parade

By Marcello Lanfranchi

Are you outraged that Trump’s ludicrous military parade is moving forward? If not, you’re either not paying attention, or you’re the type of person who thinks international diplomacy is best waged 280 characters at a time AND OCCASIONALLY YELLING AT FOREIGN HEADS OF STATE IN ALL CAPS.

In case you’ve been living under a rock, I envy you; I’ve been considering a move recently, myself. But to get you up to speed, several thousand US troops are expected to march this November 2018, right before Veterans’ Day, in Donald Trump’s farcical homage to himself — to the tune of $12,000,000 to $30,000,000 — yes, that’s 12-30 million dollars.

Does the Pentagon really have nothing better to do with their time? This is how the $700 billion military budget is being spent? At last, those of us with a lick of sense have found a perfect reason to dramatically decrease defense spending.

I don’t know about you, but watching 5,000 uniformed soldiers marching down the street, bearing arms, and driving military vehicles, evokes images of authoritarian regimes in places like Kim Jong Un’s North Korea, Hitler’s Germany, or Darth Sidious’ Galactic Empire. This is just one more display to remind us that our democracy is in grave danger.

Since we’ve now found the magic bullet (I swear that pun was not intended) that will convince Congress to slash our defense budget — which in 2017, at a mere $610 billion, was more than the defense budgets of the next seven most militarized nations, combined let’s think of ways we can spend that money more sanely.

defense budget comparison

Given that $30 million could provide shelter and mental health services to the men and women who have sacrificed for this country, a military parade is a hard slap in the face to them.

Let’s deluge our members of Congress with calls demanding they put a stop to this charade of a parade. It’s worth a shot (there’s that pun again). The final vote for the 2019 National Defense Authorization Act will likely be the week of July 30, 2018, and here’s something you can tell your MoCs:

My name is __________, my zip code is _____, and I’m a member of Indivisible East Bay. I am outraged that Trump’s ludicrous military parade is moving forward. This is an outrageous use of tens of millions of taxpayers’ dollars and of the time of thousands of people.The parade is callously scheduled for the day before Veterans’ Day. Tens of thousands of vets are homeless today, and that number is rising. 20 US veterans take their own lives every single day and are hard hit by the opioid epidemic. I ask you to fight to dramatically decrease military spending. Vote NO on the 2019 NDAA which authorizes this obscene display to rival images of authoritarian regimes in places like North Korea and Nazi Germany.

  • Sen. Dianne Feinstein: (email); (415) 393-0707 • DC: (202) 224-3841
  • Sen. Kamala Harris: (email); (415) 355-9041 • DC: (202) 224-3553
  • Rep. Mark DeSaulnier: (email); (510) 620-1000 • DC: (202) 225-2095
  • Rep. Barbara Lee: (email); (510) 763-0370 • DC: (202) 225-2661
  • Rep. Eric Swalwell: (email); (510) 370-3322 • DC: (202) 225-5065

Marcello Lanfranchi is a native of Silicon Valley and a long-time progressive activist who has concentrated on reproductive rights, peace, queer rights, environmental sustainability, and civil rights. He currently makes a living in television and film production.

Protecting American Votes & Elections Act

This action will appear in the Indivisible East Bay newsletter on July 26, 2018. 

Deadline: ASAP and ongoing — Even without Russian hacking, elections can be compromised if we don’t protect the ballots! Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) introduced S.3049, the PAVE Act, to require that all voters have the option to use hand marked paper ballots in federal elections. Paperless voting is vulnerable and problematic (see Georgia, South Carolina). The PAVE Act also requires Risk Limiting Audits for all federal races. Midterms are coming up, and we need to tell our Senators it’s time for them to support the PAVE Act, and to demand a 2018 implementation date (it’s currently 2020) for the hand marked paper ballot clause.

What to say:

My name is ___, my zip code is ___, and I’m a member of Indivisible East Bay. I want Senator _____ to support the Protecting American Votes and Elections Act, S.3049. We need to ensure that California’s voters are protected from malicious influence. We also need the hand marked paper ballot clause implemented for 2018 to cover the upcoming midterm elections.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein: (email); (415) 393-0707 • DC: (202) 224-3841

Sen. Kamala Harris: (email); (415) 355-9041 • DC: (202) 224-3553

 

Want to learn more about, and help to work on, election integrity issues?

  • Watch the recording of the Indivisible Fair & Secure Elections Webinar at this link (here’s our background article about the webinar)
  • After you watch, you can connect with people from your state by filling out this form. The working group will follow up with an email to introduce you to other people in your state interested in taking action
  • You can also view the webinar slides and other resources at this link
  • Work on these critical issues with the Indivisible East Bay Voter Rights & Election Integrity team — email: heidi@IndivisibleEB.org, or join the #voting-issues channel on IEB’s Slack. Want an invitation to join Slack? Email: info@IndivisibleEB.org
  • Help spread the word on social media! Follow IEB member and election integrity advocate Jennifer Cohn (@jennycohn1) on Twitter, and re-tweet her  excellent content. Read Jennifer’s blog.

 

Subscribe to the newsletter. See our newsletter archive.

Graphic copyright @equalandallied1

 

 

 

Trump Sides With Russia, The Resistance Sides with America

By Nancy Latham

Ever since Trump careened onto the national political stage, the American people have been bombarded with news about him. Mostly the stories hover at a dull roar of sleaze and villainy, but every so often there is a trumpian screech that brings our grief and outrage to new heights. Mexicans are rapists. African countries are shitholes. Some Nazis, on the other hand, are very fine people. Child abuse is our immigration policy … Each time, we wonder for a moment: “has he finally gone too far?” Then we come to our senses – of course Trump will survive this. He has obliterated our collective sense of what too far even means.

But can Trump’s nauseating prostration before Putin in Helsinki have finally done it?

July 16, 2018, the day of all the Helsinki Summit news coverage, something seemed different. The chronically spineless Paul “We should not be criticizing our president while he’s overseas” Ryan came out with this statement: “The president must appreciate that Russia is not our ally. There is no moral equivalence between the United States and Russia, which remains hostile to our most basic values and ideals. The United States must be focused on holding Russia accountable and putting an end to its vile attacks on democracy.” And Mitch “party over country” McConnell said “The Russians are not our friends. And I entirely believe the assessment of our intelligence community.”

Even more startling than rebukes from lawmakers were those from Fox MediaAbby Huntsman, a host of Fox & Friends, tweeted, “No negotiation is worth throwing your own people and country under the bus.” From Neil Cavuto, a host of Fox Business: “It’s not a right or left thing to me – it’s just wrong.” The Fox propaganda sustains the belief system of Trump voters; the day that Fox stops shilling for the administration could just be the day that the the fervor of Trump supporters starts to cool.

In this extraordinary moment, Trump’s staunchest and highest-profile supporters began to turn against him. Why? Because Trump made the mistake of activating their identities as Americans, rather than their identities as Republicans.

The increasing polarization of Republicans and Democrats – growing for decades – has turned every policy issue into a question not of what works and what doesn’t, but of who wins and who loses. Every time our party identities are activated, we see the world through the lens of rivalry with the opposing party, and are swept away by a powerful tribalism. And social science tells us that the only thing that can overcome divisive identities is a “superordinate identity”: a social category to which competing groups can all belong. For Republicans and Democrats, that “superordinate identity” is “American.”

By siding with an international adversary against his own country, Trump shone klieg lights on our American identity, obscuring our competing political identities. Listen to the language Republicans have been using:

  • John McCain: “Our president failed to defend all that makes us who we are—a republic of free people dedicated to the cause of liberty at home and abroad.”
  • Lisa Murkowski: “Sadly President Trump did not defend America to the Russian president, and for the world to see. Instead, what I saw today was not ‘America First,’ it was simply a sad diminishment of our great nation.”
  • John Kasich: “We need to be clear. Russia is our foe. Putin is actively trying to hurt our country. America needs to speak with one voice AGAINST Russia.”
  • Joe Walsh, former Congressman and fervent Trump supporter (until July 16th): “Trump was a traitor today. I cannot & will not support a traitor. No decent American should.”

One day later, Trump’s advisors had managed to corral him, and he walked back his Helsinki remarks. His claim that he had simply misspoken was ludicrous enough that even dictionary.com made fun of it, providing the usage quote “Trump blames his support of Russia on a double negative and no one’s buying it.” But that didn’t matter. It will be enough for craven Republican lawmakers to find political cover so they can stick with Trump while he continues to deliver on hard right policies.

But I’m not so sure we’re back where we were before Helsinki. Perhaps this is just the fever dream of a Resistance fighter – but I wonder if we have glimpsed the beginning of the end for Trump. By so dramatically highlighting our common identity as Americans, he unwittingly handed us a powerful tool we can use to shape the conversation. On protest signs, in rally speeches, in letters to the editor, in blog posts, in tweets – everywhere – we should relentlessly declare that the deeper fight is not between Republicans and Democrats, but between America and a foreign rival. It is between free elections and the enemies of our institutions. Trump has chosen his side, and – no matter how he tries to wiggle out of what we all heard him say – he has sided with Putin. We must call on all patriots to choose our side: here with American democracy.

The Resistance has been aghast for almost two years about this administration’s assault on democracy. We can barely contain our rage at the Republicans who batter our institutions daily for the sake of entrenching their power. So let’s push the public discourse to remind us all of our shared identity. Let’s keep saying what we’ve been saying all along, and what has now been proven for the whole world to see: Trump is a traitor. Let’s say over and over where the real threat lies, and what’s at stake. Republicans are Americans too, and they might surprise us by rising – finally – to the defense of their country.

Nancy Latham is on IEB’s Governing Committee, and is a passionate member of the Resistance. In her day job, she works with non-profits, foundations, and government agencies that support greater equity and justice through initiatives in youth development, education, housing, and community development.