We Love Virginia Voters

Deadline: Tuesday, June 11 –

As you know, Indivisible East Bay has committed to help flip four seats in the Virginia state legislature from Republican to Democratic this fall. Before we get there, though, there’s a critical Democratic primary next Tuesday, June 11 in Virginia’s 35th Senate district, where newcomer Yasmine Taeb is taking on party leader Dick Saslaw. Among other major issues: the influence of Dominion Energy, with which Saslaw has ties, and the Atlantic Coast and Mountain Valley pipelines, which Saslaw supports and Taeb opposes. Reclaim Our Vote has asked for our help in turning out the vote.

In partnership with the NAACP, Black Voters Matter, Mi Familia Vota and other organizations, ROV specifically reaches out to voters of color. For this phone bank campaign, the goal is to call this heavily Democratic non-white Hispanic and Asian district and encourage them to vote next Tuesday. In the last state election, fewer than 25,000 people voted out of more than 200,000 residents.

ROV is non-partisan and the calls to the Latino and Asian voters will inform them of the upcoming vote and let them know how the two candidates differ. No persuasion, just information.

What you can do:

This year, it’s crucial to remind Virginians that the SD-35 seat is worth voting for. ROV is asking you to commit to a total of 50 phone calls between today and next Tuesday’s election.  For more information and to get started, email rov@peopledemandingaction.org

And to receive latest updates on ROV postcard parties and phonebanking events, email andrea@indivisibleeb.org.

 

 

Photo by Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images.

P.S. #44 was actually phonebanking in Virginia for this excellent photo!

 

Mueller’s Report IS the smoking gun

Deadline: Yesterday, but if that’s impossible, NOW NOW NOW –

Mueller has spoken, and though his May 29 statement was brief, we’ll paraphrase and boil it down to the main takeaways:

  • The Special Counsel’s Office investigated efforts to interfere in our political system and, subsequently, to obstruct our investigation.
  • Volume 1 of the Report details numerous efforts by Russia to influence our election, and the Trump campaign’s response, as well as the Special Counsel’s conclusion that there was insufficient evidence to charge a broader conspiracy.
  • Volume 2 describes the results and analysis of our investigation that the president obstructed justice.
  • Because of the Department of Justice policy that a sitting president can’t be charged with a federal crime, we did not make a determination whether Trump committed a crime.
  • However, “if we had had confidence that the president clearly did not commit a crime, we would have said so.”
  • And “the Constitution requires a process other than the criminal justice system to formally accuse a sitting president of wrong doing.” (In other words: Congress — I did my job, now you do yours.)
  • Finally: “And I will close by reiterating the central allegation of our indictments — that there were multiple, systematic efforts to interfere in our election. That allegation deserves the attention of every American.

This article boils it down to ten easy points written in plain english with zero legalese.

Now that Mueller has spoken, it’s clear that his words reinforce what we’ve asked you to do over the past month:

We’re closing out this years-long month of May by asking you to mashup these intertwined actions! Click on the links above to our prior articles for more info and a wide range of actions you can take for each. But if you’ve already read them and want to get going, we’ll channel taciturn Robert Mueller and cut to the chase.

What you must do NOW:  

1. Read the Mueller Report! How to get it for free:

2. Urge your Representative to continue to investigate and to initiate an impeachment inquiry.

What to say: 

My name is ____, my zip code is ____, and I’m a member of Indivisible East Bay. Please use the full extent of your oversight and investigative powers to get to the truth and hold Trump accountable, including opening an impeachment inquiry. As Mueller said in his statement, only Congress can accuse a sitting president.

[If your Rep. is Mark DeSaulnier or Eric Swalwell, also say: Please do your job and cosponsor House Resolution 257].

[If your Rep. is Barbara Lee, also say: Thank you for cosponsoring House Resolution 257].

  • 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

Mueller has spoken. Now it’s YOUR turn to speak out!

No Drilling on Mt. Diablo

Action deadline: Comments on Proposed Resource Management Plan and Final EIS due June 9, 2019 –

This administration has a track record of sacrificing priceless public lands for the benefit of private oil and gas extraction, as shown by their efforts around the country and in California. They’re at it again — and this time, it’s right here.

On May 9, 2019, the Bureau of Land Management Central Coast Field Office released a Proposed Resource Management Plan and Final Environmental Impact Statement to open up 725,000 acres of land in California for new oil and gas leasing. Public land that would be open for drilling includes areas in and around Mount Diablo State Park and in Butano State Park near Pescadero.

The Center for Biological Diversity writes that oil development along the Central Coast could involve fracking, and this resource management plan ends a six-year moratorium on leasing public lands to oil and gas extraction. An official with the California agency that oversees drilling has claimed that it’s unlikely any drilling would actually take place in the Bay Area, due to current pricing and supply, and because California has stringent regulations, but ANY possibility of new fossil fuel extraction is too much. The Center for Biological Diversity has criticized this plan due to the potential for drilling throughout the East Bay and along the Central Coast.

We need to stop this before irreparable damage is done. >>Submit your comments using this form on the BLM website<< by June 9, 2019! Read on for instructions, talking points, and more information:

What to do:

Comment now! The 30-day public comment period ends on Sunday June 9, 2019. Submit your comments on on the BLM site here. When you comment online, you have a 60 minute time limit within which you must fill in all boxes with red asterisks on all pages (you don’t need to fill in the “Chapter Reference” or “Section Reference” boxes on the first page). Once you’ve finished with one screen, click the “Next” button in the lower right corner; the last screen will have a “Submit” button in that location. Or you can submit comments by mail to this address:

BLM Director (210)
Attention: Protest Coordinator, WO-210
P.O. Box 71383
Washington, DC 20024-1383

After you’re done, tell your friends, family, and neighbors. Not everyone is as active as you, our wonderful Indivisible members, but when something is local, it’s a great way to get others motivated to act. This plan is largely flying under the radar, but with your help we can get a strong local grassroots opposition. Share the link to this article with them!

What to write:

Here are some suggested comments; please personalize what you write, because copied and pasted comments or overly similar comments may be grouped together and not counted separately. Some of these sample comments have been adapted from the joint comment letter from the Center for Biological Diversity and the Sierra Club responding to the draft EIS, which can be found on page I-71 in the comments and responses here — click ctrl+f and in the search box, type I-71 (that’s a capital letter “I”).

  • Many of the lands included in this plan would require fracking in order to extract oil and gas. Fracking involves the use of toxic and poorly understood chemicals.These toxic chemicals get into the groundwater, especially in California, where fracking operations are dangerously shallow.Our communities, waterways, wildlife, and outdoor economy will all be put at risk.
  • The development scenario used to determine the environmental impacts is a low-end assumption that does not take into account technological improvements that may lower the costs or uncertainty in drilling within the East Bay or Central Coast. This masks the potential environmental costs of more intense fossil fuel extraction.
  • Opening up new public lands to fossil fuel extraction is contrary to California’s commitment to building a sustainable future without reliance on fossil fuels.California has a statutory target of reducing greenhouse gas emissions to 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2030, and a plan to reduce petroleum consumption by 45 percent by 2030 to meet this target.We need environmentally and economically sound energy strategies focused on the development of renewable energy sources.
    • Why despoil our environment to extract a resource we have decided to move away from?
  • The climate crisis requires swift and immediate action. The extraction and burning of fossil fuels will worsen this crisis, contrary to the Federal Land Policy and Management Act, which mandates that the BLM manage public lands “without permanent impairment of the productivity of the land and the quality of the environment.” The only way to avoid permanent impacts to the quality of our environment from the climate crisis is to keep proven fossil fuels in the ground.
  • Our beautiful public lands are a precious resource that deserve to be protected. Destroying our natural landscapes cannot be easily undone, and the wider, long-term effects even less so. We must not sacrifice our health, wildlife and climate to profit the oil and gas industry.In a state where water is so precious — to agriculture, human populations, and wildlife — clean water is worth more than oil.

There’s more you can do! In our recent article we told you how to leave comments opposing the BLM’s draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement that would open up public lands and mineral estates in Santa Barbara, San Luis Obispo, Kern, and six other California counties to oil companies. Comments are due June 10, so there’s still time.

 

Fantasy Landscape, photograph of Mount Diablo by Richard Conlon 

Join IEB for Pride 2019 – and other ways to show support

Emeryville event Dublin pride flag

We really didn’t think that in the East Bay, in 2019, the rainbow flag would be controversial. So when Shawn Kumagai, the first out gay Dublin City Council member, proposed that Dublin join numerous other East Bay cities (and also other much less obvious places) in flying the Pride flag in support of Pride Month, it was kind of a shock when town residents went on the record with ignorant and bigoted statements. And even more of a shock when the City Council caved to them, voting 3-2 against the rainbow flag for fear that it would be a “slippery slope” if they showed support for the LGBTQI community.

Indivisible East Bay has criticized Dublin for its cowardice and lack of compassion, and asked Representative Eric Swalwell to specifically call out his home town of Dublin for its shameful decision. Swalwell has declared support for the LGBTQI community and said he would have voted to display the rainbow flag had he still been on the Dublin City Council. He also tweeted a photo of his own rainbow flag at his Congressional office – but has not overtly criticized the City Council vote against the flag, nor commented on the bigoted, hateful comments made against Councilmember Kumagai’s proposal and the LGBTQI community.

Now, Dublin City Council member Arun Goel, who voted against flying the flag, seems to have changed his mind. A new vote will be held on June 4; if Goel votes in favor of the flag, as he now indicates he’ll do, the vote will be 3-2 in favor. As of this writing, the two others who voted against the proposal – Mayor David Haubert and Vice Mayor/Councilwoman Melissa Hernandez – have not indicated a change of heart.

What you can do:

1. Join IEB at the SF Pride March!

Who says activism can’t be a fabulously good time! Indivisible East Bay will join the Indivisible contingent that Indivisible SF is organizing to march in the Pride Parade on June 30th at 10:30 am. Wear your IEB shirt! Early word is we’ll be right near the front, behind the Dykes on Bikes. Here’s the Eventbrite page with the details – as we get more info we’ll update this article and put it into the IEB newsletter and on our facebook page. Want to help organize? Email us at info@indivisibleeb.org and/or join the #ieb-pride-2019 channel on Slack.

2. More events!

  • Yes, Dublin, people do so want Pride flags: Saturday, June 1, 2019 at noon, bring your own flag to the Pride Flag Display at Dublin Civic Center, 100 Civic Plaza.
  • On June 8, Emeryville will celebrate with “Gotta Give Them Hope” – Solidarity Pride Flag Raising for Dublin, with Dublin City Council member Shawn Kumagai. June 8, noon at Emeryville Town Hall. Info here. (See more below, under Emeryville)
  • On Sunday June 2, join the fifth year anniversary Richmond Pride event: “Remembering history! Making history!” The event will be held at Marina Bay Park in Richmond, at the corner of Regatta Blvd and Melville Square, from 10 AM to 3 PM.

    Richmond Pride

3. Talk to your town!

  • Do you live in Dublin and want to have your say? Tell your City Council member – and tell Mayor Haubert and Vice Mayor Hernandez – what you think of the decision to cave to anti-LGBTQI bigotry. And sign this petition from Change.org.
  • El Cerrito issued a proclamation recognizing June as LGBT Pride Month in the city. Tell your local rep you like that!
  • In Emeryville, council member John J. Bauters is giving feedback to Dublin’s Mayor and Vice Mayor, the remaining two “no” votes. He’s also proposed that Emeryville fly an extra rainbow flag (you know, the one that isn’t going up in Dublin) at the June 8 “Gotta Give Them Hope” event; he says the city council, which needs to approve the proposal, has been “extremely supportive” of these issues in the past. If you live in Emeryville, tell your city council member you want them to show Dublin how it’s done.

A light at the end of the tunnel of endless war

Deadline: Now through June (at least) –

Earlier this week, the House Appropriations Committee passed an amendment to the defense spending bill, proposed by Representative Barbara Lee, that would repeal the 2001 Authorization for Military Force (AUMF). The AUMF, first passed in 2001, gave the President the power to use military force without prior Congressional approval, but only in response to attacks deemed directly or indirectly responsible for the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Since then it’s mushroomed in frankly terrifying ways: see our previous posts on the AUMF and our own Representative Barbara Lee’s years-long efforts to repeal it. And now the Administration has threatened to invoke the AUMF as justification for starting a war with Iran without consulting Congress.

We are so thankful for and and proud of Rep. Lee, and hopeful that we may actually see an end to the endless wars that we’ve been involved in. But first, that spending bill needs to pass the full House of Representatives, and the Senate.

What you can do:

  • If your Representative is Barbara Lee (email; 510-763-0370): thank her for her tireless opposition to war and support of checks on the Executive branch.
  • If your Representative is Eric Swalwell (email; 510-370-3322) or Mark DeSaulnier (email; 510-620-1000): ask them to voice their support for the AUMF repeal, and to vote for the defense spending bill with the AUMF repeal when it comes to the floor of the House.
  • Senator Dianne Feinstein (email; 415-393-0707) is a senior member of the Senate Defense Appropriations Subcommittee, so start calling her now to make a statement in favor of repealing the AUMF and commit to voting for it in committee.
  • Senator Kamala Harris (email; 415-981-9369) will not vote until (and unless) the bill comes to the Senate floor, but we can start asking her now to make a statement in favor of repealing the AUMF and to commit to voting for it.

Remind all of our legislators that it is past time to end this conflict; and it is more urgent now than ever, as the present administration is intent upon prolonging, expanding and intensifying this never ending war. Let’s make sure that doesn’t happen!

Supporting Criminal Justice Reform Bills in the California Legislature

By Toni Henle

Action Deadline: today and every day through May 30 –

On May 20, 2019, Indivisible East Bay members joined a large crowd at the State Capitol in Sacramento at the 2019 Quest4Democracy (Q4D) Advocacy Day. Q4D is a statewide coalition of grassroots groups supporting a platform of bills to improve access to employment, housing, and education for all Californians, and to restore civil and human rights for prisoners and the formerly incarcerated. Several of the bills supported by Q4D are on the Indivisible CA StateStrong list of priority bills for this legislative session, including ACA 6-Free the Vote, which would restore voting rights to approximately 50,000 people on parole in California who are currently prohibited by the State Constitution from voting, and AB 392, which clarifies that police should use deadly force only when there are no alternatives and requires de-escalation whenever possible. IEB strongly supports, and has written about, both ACA 6 and AB 392; see below for actions you can take to support these bills with your East Bay assembly members.

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The rally had many emotional high points, especially when family members who lost loved ones to police violence, including the mother of Stephon Clark, an unarmed black man shot by police in Sacramento, spoke about unjust violence and their horrendous losses and led chants of “Remember their name…” And Assemblymember Rob Bonta, a co-author of ACA 6, said “The right to vote is the greatest anti-recidivism tool that we have.”

Before Lobby Day began, attendees received legislative advocacy training on the general mechanics of the California legislature and the specific bills the coalition is supporting. Then over 100 people spread out inside the Capitol to talk with elected representatives and their staffs in support of proposed legislation, while other supporters made phone calls from outside. IEB members met with groups organizing actions at the event, including All Of Us or None, Initiate Justice, Prisoners with Children, and many others.

IEB interviewed attendee Abdul Haqq Muhammad, Community Outreach Coordinator for Open Gate, an Oakland-based jail-to-college pipeline nonprofit. Muhammad explained that he wanted to make a difference in supporting Free the Vote for the 50,000 people on parole, including himself, who don’t have the right to vote. As he said:

The black and brown community has been sold a bill of goods that their vote doesn’t count, but if it didn’t, they wouldn’t be trying so hard to keep it from so many. If ACA 6 passes, it would give those of us on parole a voice to effect change, instead of the system affecting us. Voting is the first step in being a citizen.

IEB was approached by two young women from UC Riverside with their Underground Scholar Initiative. Bibiana and Jazmin came from the Inland Empire to lobby legislators “to shift the School-to-Prison pipeline to a Prison-to-School pipeline using higher education as an alternative to incarceration through recruitment, retention, and advocacy.” One of them told us that her brother was incarcerated when she was seven years old, and that has had a big impact on her life. We were moved by her personal story and how she was trying to do something meaningful while attending college.

What you can do:

Each legislative chamber must vote on bills and send them to the other chamber by May 31, meaning that floor votes can happen any time from now until then. So call your state assemblymember NOW!

Here’s what you need to know:

  • Assemblymember Buffy Wicks (AD-15):
    • supported AB 392 in the Public Safety Committee. Call to thank her and ask for her vote for AB 392 on the floor.
    • She doesn’t have a public position on ACA 6 and needs calls asking for her support.
    • District: 510-286-1400; Capitol: 916-319-2015
  • Assemblymember Rebecca Bauer-Kahan (AD 16):
    • supported AB 392 in the Public Safety Committee
    • supports ACA 6
    • Call to thank her and ask her to support both bills on the floor.
    • Capitol (handles legislative calls): 916-319-2016
  • Assemblymember Rob Bonta (AD-18):
    • has not yet taken a position on AB 392 and needs calls to support.
    • Is a co-author of ACA 6; thank him.
    • District: 510-286-1670; Capitol: 916-319-2018
  • Assemblymember Bill Quirk (AD-20):
    • needs calls on both AB 392 and ACA 6.
    • voted “aye” in public safety committee for AB 392; thank him and ask him to do so again in the Assembly.
    • District: 510-583-8818; Capitol: 916-319-2020

What to say:

For AB 392:

My name is ______, my zip code is _____, and I’m a member of Indivisible East Bay. I’m calling to ask for (or: thank you for) your support on AB 392. We need this bill to update California’s use of force standard, to make sure that police officers avoid using deadly force whenever there are alternatives available to them. AB 392 is modeled after best practices across the country. This bill will save lives. “Yes” on AB 392!

For ACA 6:

My name is ______, my zip code is _____, and I’m a member of Indivisible East Bay. I’m calling to ask for (or: thank you for) your support on ACA 6, the Free the Vote Act. ACA 6 restores the right to vote to about 50,000 Californians who are on parole. Taking away the right to vote from formerly incarcerated people is a form of voter suppression that dates back to Jim Crow laws. People on parole pay taxes; they should be able to vote and be full participants in our communities and democracy. Please vote “Yes” on ACA 6!

If you want to learn more about the work that IEB’s Voter Rights & Election Integrity team is doing, and how you can help, email us at info@IndivisibleEB.org, or join the #voting-issues channel on IEB’s Slack.  For an invitation to join Slack, email: info@IndivisibleEB.org

Toni Henle is retired after a career in policy work at non-profits focused on workforce development. She is a member of the IEB Governance Committee, co-lead of Outreach to Organizations and a member of the Indivisible CA-11 team.

Get REAL about education funding & education behind bars

By Elizabeth Douglas

Editors’ note: This piece contains both a powerful first-person narrative and important information about the Restoring Education and Learning (REAL) Act, H.R. 2168 in the House and S.1074 in the Senate, which could provide funding for education for literally hundreds of thousands of prisoners. Please read to the end to find out how you can support this important legislation.


Last week, the Education-Buster-in-Chief
announced that he wanted to “redirect $1.9 billion from a Pell Grant surplus to jumpstart other projects, primarily a NASA initiative to put astronauts back on the moon.” Pell Grants, in brief, are federal government aid for students who need financial assistance for college; and this budget request is not the first time Trump has tried to take away money from poor kids who rely on Pell Grants.

Poor kids like me. I was able to start my college career in large part because of the Pell Grant. The Bachelor’s degree that was mostly Pell Grant-funded provided the path to get my Master’s Degree, and this changed my life. I reflect back on the young woman I was then, determined to get an education, but with no viable means or way to get one. I was incredibly poor, despite 50-60 hour workweeks cobbled together from two different jobs. I had no family support: I left home the day I turned 18 due to several years of abuse from my parents, and became estranged from them for many years. No spousal support, either: I married far too early to someone who was essentially a leech, financially, emotionally, and physically (we later divorced). I was struggling to survive, and I was alone in this struggle.

I decided that I could only afford to take one year between high school and college to save up what little I could to make my education a reality. But that little didn’t cover it, so I applied for the Pell Grant – and got it. I still remember that moment I received my award letter as transcendently joyful and overwhelming. I shed many happy tears. I decided to enter the lowest cost but highest quality college that was close to where I lived; I couldn’t afford to move, and couldn’t afford more than two college application fees. I was lucky enough to be living close to a Junior College with ties to William and Mary in Virginia. The Pell Grant covered both my tuition – a steal at about $900 a semester back in the old-time days of early 2000 – and books for the year. I still had to work insane work hours just to live, but at least I didn’t have to worry about being unable to afford college.

My story is not so different from the millions of students (around 7.1 million, based on the data from 2016-2017) who now receive the Pell Grant. Except now, these students are facing more hurdles, such as the much wider gap between the cost of tuition and the limits of the Federal Pell Grant, as you can see from the chart below from The Pell Institute’s report Indicators of Higher Education Equity in the United States — 2018 Historical Trend Report. The cap for the 2019–20 award year is a very low $6,195, over fifteen thousand dollars below the average cost of full-time college enrollment – and as the graph shows, the average Pell award is only $3,740, and is likely to stay, thousands below even that low grant cap amount.

Pell Grant article Graph3b1

Thankfully, as in previous years, Congress rejected Trump’s moonshot heist by not giving him one cent of Pell Grant funds. Despite that win, there is an urgent need to protect Pell Grant recipients, and specifically one group of Pell Grant recipients that does not get enough attention: incarcerated individuals. There are no benevolent billionaires that are going to come to their rescue a la Robert F. Smith; no fairy godfather or godmother is stepping up to pay for their education. Yet getting a degree with the assistance of the Pell Grant is an essential way to change the lives of people behind bars and give them the opportunity to succeed and obtain employment post-release (see this Rand report for more details). According to the Department of Education, a recent study by the Vera Institute showed that “incarcerated individuals who participate in prison education programs are 43 percent less likely to return to prison than those who do not.”

On May 21, 2019, Betsy DeVos approved the expansion of the Obama administration’s Second Chance Pell Experiment (formally called the Second Chance Pell Pilot), allowing “up to 12,000 incarcerated individuals to receive Pell Grants in order to pursue a degree or credential.” But this is only a bandaid measure to right the wrongs of the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act (VCCLEA), a provision of which revoked Pell Grant funding “to any individual who is incarcerated in any federal or state penal institution.” Studies show that “if the ban on federal financial aid for inmates were lifted, about 463,000 prisoners would be eligible for a Pell Grant.”

Now, the bicameral and bipartisan Restoring Education and Learning Act (the REAL Act of 2019), H.R. 2168 in the House and S.1074 in the Senatepaves the way for exactly that. The House bill is already cosponsored by our own Representative Barbara Lee, and has a strong chance of succeeding since, as this NPR article points out, we are seeing a trend toward legislation that rejects the early 90s “tough on crime” era that led to prisoners’ rights to education being diminished in the first place. Our other Members of Congress haven’t signed on yet. If you want to help incarcerated individuals get an education, tell them: Get REAL, co-sponsor and support the REAL Act!

What you can do:

  • If your representative is Barbara Lee (email; 510-763-0370), thank her for cosponsoring H.R. 2168 – REAL Act of 2019.
  • If your representative is Eric Swalwell (email; 510-370-3322) or Mark DeSaulnier (email; 510-620-1000), ask them to cosponsor H.R. 2168 – REAL Act of 2019, and support equity in Pell Grant funding for incarcerated individuals.
  • Ask Senators Feinstein and Harris to cosponsor S. 1074 – REAL Act of 2019, and support equity in Pell Grant funding for incarcerated individuals.
    • Sen. Dianne Feinstein: (email); (415) 393-0707 • DC: (202) 224-3841
    • Sen. Kamala Harris: (email); (415) 981-9369 • DC: (202) 224-3553

 

Image: Equity Indicator graphic

Elizabeth Douglas is a mom, runner, and activist from Alameda. She is also a Climate Reality Leader (Seattle 2017) with a strong interest in protecting our ocean and corals.

 

It’s impeachment inquiry time

Katie Cameron and Nancy Latham contributed to this article

Deadline – ASAP until the House Judiciary Committee launches an impeachment inquiry.

​​With ​Game of ​Thrones ​over, we​’re hoping to watch the final episodes of the (not)Game of (de)Throning the Criminal-in-Chief who Thinks-He’s-King, but is not! We, along with some Democratic House leaders, a majority of the Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee, the one Republican who has read the Mueller Report, and millions of our fellow citizens, think it’s high time for the House Judiciary Committee to begin an impeachment inquiry.

You’re bombarded with news stories, hot takes, and wildly diverse opinions about the “I” word. If you’ve been working for impeachment since inauguration day, or are now convinced from the evidence of high crimes and misdemeanors in the Mueller Report, we’ve got a great list of things you can do. If you’re still debating the need to take action, or want more info, keep reading below our action list.

What you can do now:  

  • Use Indivisible National’s page to urge your representative to cosponsor House Resolution 257, Rep. Tlaib’s resolution which would authorize an impeachment inquiry.
    • UPDATE May 24: Representative Barbara Lee is the first (and so far only) of our East Bay Reps to cosponsor the resolution. If you are Rep. Lee’s constituent, thank her!
    • You can also check out Need to Impeach’s tool to learn where your Member of Congress stands on impeachment (and share it with your out-of-town friends).
    • This May 2 SF Chron article covered Bay Area MoCs’ positions on impeachment.
    • Here are some of our MoCs’ comments: Rep. Swalwell’s tweet; and an interview with Rep. DeSaulnier. 
  • Visit bit.ly/impeachresolution for By the People’s template to send a letter to your representative.
  • Send House Speaker Nancy Pelosi an email using this Need to Impeach tool. Adapt the suggested text to your own personalized message. Send her a tweet expressing your opinion.
  • Tweet to Representative Jerry Nadler, Chair of the House Judiciary Committee, urging him to take the lead and start an impeachment inquiry. 
  • Who said political action can’t be joyful and serious at the same time? Join IEB members and thousands of others at Impeach on the Beach, June 1, from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Five thousand people (or more) will arrange their bodies to spell out “IMPEACH” in 150-foot-tall letters stretching for 610 feet on Ocean Beach, to be photographed from above. More details and sign up at this link
  • Spread the word! Talking directly to people you know is the most effective way to spark change. Urge friends and relatives, especially those who live in districts represented by Democratic House leaders and Committee Chairs, to contact their Reps, urging an impeachment inquiry. Keep that word “inquiry” in your messages, so people understand you’re not trying to convict without the House investigation. Give them this link to get in touch with their Members of Congress.
  • Join the discussion on the #impeachment channel on IEB’s Slack. For an invitation to join Slack, email info@IndivisibleEB.org
  • Want to work with Alameda4Impeachment (A4I)? Email them for more info: Alameda4Impeachment@gmail.com 
  • We don’t often suggest signing petitions, but it’ll just take a minute – and these, from Need to Impeach, and Free Speech for People, have already proven to be effective.
  • Come to our All Members Meeting on Sunday, May 26, from 1-3 PM at Sports Basement, Berkeley. It’s an informal potluck get-together, and members informed about impeachment will be there.

What else you can do: Read up! 

  • Know the impeachable offenses: Unindicted co-conspirator Individual-1  has committed many impeachable offenses, some in plain sight, only a few of which rely on the Mueller Report  (“Russia, if you are listening…”). See for example Need to Impeach’s list and Lawfare’s article
  • Bone up on the impeachment process. These links help explain what the Constitution says about impeachment, the history of it and how the process works, and FAQs:
    • Robert Reich has this excellent short video on the impeachment process.
    • By The People is a national grassroots action group holding demonstrations in DC. Their website has excellent, easy to read info on impeachment.
    • Need To Impeach, the group Tom Steyer launched in October 2017, has grown to a movement of nearly 8 million people. NTI uses grassroots organizing to mobilize people to demand that Congress begin impeachment proceedings to uncover the full extent of Trump’s lawlessness.
  • Read the Mueller Report, in large part an impeachment inquiry referral to Congress. Or listen to Audible’s free audio recording of the report. For the Cliffs Notes version, check out Lawfareblog’s excellent notes about the Report.
  • Read The Constitution Requires It, by Free Speech For People Legal Director Ron Fein, co-founder and president John Bonifaz, and chair of the board Ben Clements, with a foreword by The Nation’s national affairs correspondent John Nichols. The book lays out information on impeachment clearly and concisely. And listen to The Constitution is Clear: Impeachment Hearings Now, authoritarian scholar Sarah Kendzior’s Gaslit Nation podcast interview of Bonifaz.

More info: the Whens, Whys, Hows & Whats of impeachment

When? Impeachment talk right now feels like a modern day Goldilocks & the Three Bears, with some people saying “Too soon!” others “Too late!” and the rest “Now!”

  • In the first category we most notably find House Speaker Pelosi and some other House leadership members, who say we need more investigations and more witnesses and more evidence.
  • In the second are those who think we already lost the “window.” According to them, we’re now too close to the 2020 elections and we should just settle it at the ballot box.
  • The third category includes those who’ve been on board all along or have recently reached the tipping point. This large group includes Harvard Law Professor Laurence Tribe, who wrote To End a Presidency, the Power of Impeachment, which cautioned against impeachment, but who is now calling for hearings after the release of the Mueller report. Also in the “Now!” group: members of Congress angered by stonewalling over ignored subpoenas and worse, and some of the 900+ former federal prosecutors who signed onto a statement saying they believe Trump’s conduct as described in the Mueller Report would result in multiple felony obstruction of justice charges for any other person.

Why?

  • For one, as those former federal prosecutors put their reputations on the line to publicly state, the Mueller Report describes numerous acts that satisfy all of the elements for an obstruction charge, conduct that obstructed or attempted to obstruct the truth-finding process, as to which the evidence of corrupt intent and connection to pending proceedings is overwhelming. And, as we used to say to people who complained that the Mueller investigation was taking too long – he keeps committing crimes!
  • In addition, even if it’s unlikely that 45 will be removed from office, we can’t stand by while he shreds the Constitution and damages our democratic institutions. 

How & What?

  • Short answer: Impeachable offenses, impeachment inquiry, articles of impeachment, voting in House, trial in Senate. Sometimes people think impeachment means removal from office, but that happens only if the Senate votes to convict. Bill Clinton was impeached in the House, and acquitted in the Senate.
  • Longer answer:
    • Impeachment doesn’t begin as a foregone conclusion. It begins with an investigation opened by the House Judiciary Committee.
    • Second, the impeachment inquiry can be done quickly or slowly, to accommodate the election season.
    • Third, we believe a well-organized review of Trump’s impeachable offenses won’t hurt Democrats – it would rather be compelling television, informing the public of every high crime and misdemeanor.
    • Fourth, if the Republican dominated Senate refuses to convict, the voters can “convict” at the ballot box, armed with evidence from the House inquiry.
    • Finally, for those who worry about Pence becoming #46, the failure of the Senate to convict resolves that concern, and the investigation may entangle Pence in some of the offenses.

There’s a spectrum of pressure we can put on our electeds, depending in part on our own decisions about how to proceed. The point is that we should NOT sit idly by and say “Wait for 2020” – and you, dear IEB member, can choose to pressure for impeachment or impeachment-adjacent actions – whatever feels right to you. Whether or not we succeed in launching an impeachment inquiry, whether or not that inquiry helps end the Trump nightmare, our actions matter. Bear witness. Go on the record. Stand up and be counted at what could be the most important moral and legal turning point in our lifetimes. 

 

Katie Cameron is a founding member of Alameda4Impeachment. She spent her career in state government in Washington State, and now devotes most of her time to defeating the Trump administration and the corrupt forces that got him elected.

Nancy Latham is on IEB’s Governance 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.

Imp Peach Mint photo: Indivisible San Francisco’s Master Steve Rapport 

Georgia (and AL, KY, OH, TX …) On My Mind – and Out of My Uterus

It’s all over everywhere on social media: Women, leave Georgia. Leave Alabama, Ohio, Texas, Kentucky. And: No rights, no sex! We at Indivisible East Bay respectfully wish to say: that’s not a plan.

Running away, starting over, is only a fantasy for most women. Most women don’t have the privilege, or the money, or the support, to be able to pick up and leave their home state if it enacts legislation that deprives them of their reproductive rights. And if those with the means to leave do leave, then those left behind are the most vulnerable (and those who thought the restrictions were hunky dory to start with). As for “no rights, no sex”: it’s classic – literally – but we were under the impression that abstinence-only was a tool of the religious right, not the progressive left. Why should hetero women become celibate because they can’t get reproductive freedom? And please, let’s not forget our queer sisters – they need reproductive rights too, and you know that they’re in the crosshairs of the same folks behind the abortion bans.

And then there are calls to boycott. Boycotts are a powerful economic tool, but they’re also a double-edged sword. Don’t forget, industries in these states hire … women in these states. And people of color, and LGBTQI people … none of whom benefit from boycotts in the short term. These are the same people who are losing their rights – and possibly their health, or even risking their lives – because of these insane anti-choice bills. They don’t need to lose their financial well-being, too. Analogies to the grape boycotts of the 1960’s and 70’s aren’t accurate: the farmworkers’ union called for those boycotts. If women workers of Alabama, Georgia, etc., aren’t calling for boycotts now, please think twice before you do.

So, what’s best to do? Empowerment is more realistic and compassionate than telling people to move, less potentially harmful than boycotting, and a damn sight better than enforced chastity. And all told, helping our sisters is way better than telling them how to run their lives (which, after all, is what we’re fighting against, right?). In sum: Below are ways to respond to the abortion bans by supporting pro-women organizations that will fight for women’s rights and fight to get the controlling bastards out of power:

  • Take action to help disenfranchised and inactive voters in GA by signing up with Reclaim our Vote (ROV), a national group working with Black Voters Matter and NAACP. ROV focuses on empowering under-represented voters, particularly in communities of color. Email Andrea at andrea@indivisibleeb.org and sign up if you want to get involved with IEB efforts and/or sign up for one of ROV’s weekly Thursday Zoom orientations here.
  • Support Fair Fight in Georgia: through this ActBlue fundraiser, all donations during the month of May will be split evenly among “organizations that have been fighting and will continue to fight for reproductive rights.”
  • Here’s an amazing thread with lots of great organizations that provide abortion and health care for women in Georgia and throughout the southeast, women of color- and queer/trans/people of color-led organizations working to advance reproductive justice, organizations fighting for fair and honest elections, and more!
  • This site (which is regularly updated) can connect you with local, grassroots organizations in Ohio, Alabama, and throughout the Southeast that serve women; organizations fighting for Asian-Pacific Islander women, including transgender and non-binary folk; and ways to become a clinic escort at women’s health care clinics.

Do you know of more ways to help women in embattled states? Ways to support progressive candidates or get involved in GOTV (Get Out The Vote) efforts? Support shelters? Help women’s groups that will take back the power? We want to hear from you! Email us at info@indivisibleeb.org!

Graphics: Soulless elephant by Mr Spark and uterus by Uterus Magna 

 

Help IEB #resist on social media

Deadline: you guessed it, right NOW –

The Mueller Report contains the most in-depth summary the U.S. government has produced about how the Russians used social media to interfere in our 2016 election on behalf of Unindicted Co-conspirator Individual-1. While legislators futz around with how to rein in the fearsome power of Facebook, Twitter, and other platforms, the distortion campaigns continue. And withdrawing from social media in protest is tempting for many, but dangerous: according to reports, 45’s re-election campaign has spent nearly double what the entire 2020 Democratic field COMBINED has spent on Facebook and Google ads! How do we fight such massive out-spending? We must all join together to spread the truth and to amplify the resistance’s messages! We need your help – we’ve got something for everyone, no matter how much (or little) time you have or what platforms you prefer.

What you can do:

Step one: if you don’t already, follow Indivisible East Bay online:

Step two: read below to see where you fit into the IEB social media team (we’ll provide support, training, etc.), and then fill out our brief volunteer form. Select the “social media” team option, along with any others you’re interested in. And tell us in the “skills” and “comments” boxes what social media platforms you use, what your superpower is, etc. Even if you’ve filled it out before, we’d love to update your social media and other info. And if you have questions, want to let us know more, or prefer to talk directly, email us: info@indivisibleeb.org

How much time do you have?

  • Crushed with work & life but still want to help out? Do these things if you have as little as a couple of minutes a day:
    • Check out our posts / tweets; click “like” and then share or retweet them to your followers and friend
    • Share us in other progressive groups you’re in
    • Email links to our social media posts to anyone you know who’d be interested
  • Taking a break at work or commuting (don’t do this while driving!)? Spend five to fifteen minutes:
    • Join the #comms-social-media channel on IEB’s Slack. For an invitation to join Slack, email: info@IndivisibleEB.org;
    • Add your personal voice by commenting on, or replying to, our posts or tweets;
    • Grab the link to an article on our website and post it online;
    • Subscribe to our weekly email newsletter; copy and post info about an action or event. Check out prior newsletters in our archive (it loads sloooowly at the bottom of the page, take a sip of tea), there’s lots of info that’s still timely – share it!
  • Have half an hour now and then, or an hour or so spread out over a week, and a creative bent or other expertise?
    • You can help us come up with original content by:
      • Writing and/or editing
      • Photography
      • Videography
      • Other graphic design or arts
    • Are you an expert on any of the platforms we’re on – or on others that we could branch out to? Help guide and advise the rest of the team, answer questions and give “how to” tips!
    • Do you enjoy doing research? Let us know what hashtags are trending, or suggest accounts that we should be following or posting to, and more!
  • Have more time, energy, ideas? Mix and match any or all of the above! And if you’d like to help the social media organizing team, let us know that also.