Bar Barr – Tell Senators to vote against AG nominee

Deadline: ASAP and until the vote – Here we go again: another nominee for Attorney General who thinks the president has unfettered powers, that religion trumps (sorry not sorry) law and that it certainly is more important than the rights of LGBTQ folk, that the Muslim ban is good but abortion rights and criminal defendants’ and prisoners’ rights are not … Ladies and gentlemen and resisters of all ages, the Current Occupant presents: William Barr!

The vote on Barr’s nomination is fast approaching. Senator Kamala Harris has said she will oppose his nomination because “he won’t defend independent investigations from attacks and ensure equal protection under the law for all Americans.” She’s also said she opposes him because he doesn’t “embrace a smart on crime approach to public safety.” We agree. Please thank her, and ask Senator Dianne Feinstein to say the same – and to commit to vote against the nomination. See below for call scripts and contact info.

Some scary facts about Barr:

  • He has publicly criticized Robert Mueller’s investigation, yet during his Senate hearing, he refused to commit to recuse himself from overseeing Mueller’s investigation. He also refused to commit to make Mueller’s findings public. Biased and secret – the exact opposite of what an Attorney General should be.
  • As organizations concerned with the First Amendment’s guarantee of freedom of and from religion have pointed out, he has called for constitutional U.S. law to be replaced with “God’s law.”
  • “He believes that Trump cannot be questioned for firing [FBI Director James] Comey in a criminal obstruction probe because presidents always have the discretion to fire an FBI director” – People for the American Way
  • Barr believes in being tough on minor drug offenders and opposes sentencing reform. He’s a big fan of mass incarceration.
  • He recently praised former Attorney General Jeff Sessions as “an outstanding attorney general.”
  • Read an excellent summary of his disturbing positions on justice reform, LGBTQ rights, immigrant rights, reproductive freedom, and more, in this article.

What you can do:

Call your Senators. They are the ones who will vote on the nomination.

Senator Harris has already spoken out against Barr and said she will vote against him. What to say:

My name is ___, my zip code is ___, and I’m a member of Indivisible East Bay. Thank you for speaking out against Attorney General nominee William Barr and saying you’ll vote against him. He’s the wrong person for the job, for all the reasons you’ve said – he won’t uphold the law in a way to protect us.

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

Senator Feinstein has made statements indicating that she doesn’t favor Barr, but as of January 17 she hasn’t said so explicitly and also hasn’t said how she’ll vote. What to say:

My name is ___, my zip code is ___, and I’m a member of Indivisible East Bay. Please speak out and commit to vote against Attorney General nominee William Barr and saying you’ll vote against him. He’s the wrong person for the job. He won’t uphold the law in a way to protect us.

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

Spread the word to everyone you know, send them the link to this article, and if they don’t have their Senators’ numbers on speed dial, give them this link.

Join us at the Women’s March 2019

Flaunt your Indivisible East Bay pride by marching with us and our Indivisible Berkeley friends in the third annual Women’s March Oakland, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday, January 19. This year’s march is co-hosted by Women’s March Oakland and Black Women Organized for Political Action.

Register here (free) to get updates and so organizers can estimate attendance. To march with IEB and IB, people will meet up at 10 AM outside the Oakland Public Library on Oak Street between 13th and 14th Streets (at Lake Merritt). Look for the red, white and blue balloons! Or find us once the contingents line up — look for us wearing our IEB t-shirts (and wear yours if you have one!), and for the IEB banner or signs.

Women's March Oakland, photo by Heidi Rand
Women’s March Oakland 2018, photo by Heidi Rand

At the end of the march — or if you can’t march but want to join in the festivities — come by our booth at the “Call to Action Alley” at Frank Ogawa Plaza!

Women's March Oakland, photo by Heidi Rand
IEB booth at Women’s March Oakland 2018, photo by Heidi Rand

These other Bay Area Women’s Marches will also be held on January 19:

And spread the Women’s March search link so people all over the country can find a march near them!

Read IEB’s statement about why we’re participating in the Women’s March Oakland, and why we encourage you to join us.

Featured photograph: Women’s March Oakland 2018 © Photography by Rex

Secrets and Lies: Comment NOW against proposed FOIA Regs

Do you want to know a secret? FOIA, the Freedom of Information Act, gives private citizens the right to get information from federal agencies. It exists to promote transparency, accountability, and prompt access to a wide range of information. But under proposed revised regulations, the Department of the Interior (DOI) would be able to decide for itself whether it felt like giving out information – even information on whether the government was involved in possible criminal behavior. You have until January 28 to comment opposing these proposed regulations and preserve our right to get crucial information … [January 17: note that due to the shutdown the link may not be working, please keep trying if you get an outage message].

For example, information about government officials who have misused their positions … such as Ryan Zinke, Trump’s recently departed Secretary of the Interior. The Department of the Interior, rather like the interior of the country itself, is grand in scope, including the National Park Service, Bureau of Land Management, Bureau of Indian Affairs, and half a dozen other major departments. Zinke resigned at the end of 2018, after an unprecedented 18 separate investigations were launched into his misconduct. Some of these investigations are still pending at the time of this writing; ominously, several were closed only because of lack of cooperation by the DOI or failure to keep records.

In an amazing coincidence, just days before Zinke’s resignation, the DOI proposed revised regulations giving it broad discretion to avoid providing answers to FOIA requests for information — particularly from journalists and public interest organizations. Under these proposed regulations, the Department would be able to:

  • decide which media organizations “serve the public interest” and are therefore entitled to information, and
  • limit the number of requests media and other organizations can make during a month.

Extensive case law under FOIA governs what records must be produced. These proposed regulations are unnecessary, contrary to the statute and that case law, and inconsistent with the clear intent of Congress. They impede accountability and make further misconduct more likely.

The comment period for these proposed regulations ends January 28. Go to https://www.regulations.gov/document?D=DOI_FRDOC_0001-0094 and click the “comment now” button at the upper right to leave an objection. Be sure to mention that you are commenting on Docket No. DOI-2018-0017.

You can use these points as a guide, but please use your own language; comments that are too similar may be grouped together and not considered individually.

  • The proposed changes to the Department of the Interior’s handling of FOIA requests are contrary to goals of the FOIA statute: transparency, accountability, and prompt access to information.
  • The proposed changes are contrary to the FOIA statute, 5 U.S.C. section 522, which allows “any person” to seek information. The proposed regulations allow Interior to deny access to a media organization or other organization that has recently asked for other information. Under this change, Interior could withhold information from media outlets it didn’t like, or anyone who asked numerous or embarrassing questions – the exact situation FOIA was intended to provide against.
  • The purported reason for the changes – an increase in FOIA requests – is the result of the conduct of the DOI itself: As reported by Outside Magazine (January 17, 2019) and Nada Culver, senior counsel with the Wilderness Society, FOIA requests at Interior are up because Interior stopped sharing information voluntarily that was routinely provided by prior administrations.
  • Other changes include stretching time “limits” into “frames,” making it easier to deny requests, and giving Interior discretion to decide whether media organizations are operating primarily “in a commercial interest.” These go directly against the intent of FOIA – to allow access to information and to prevent the government from prohibiting access.
  • Submitting these proposed regulations during a holiday week, in the midst of a government shutdown, just days before Director Ryan Zinke resigned while the subject of numerous investigations, is an outrageous effort by the government to keep the public from exercising their democratic rights.

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

 

Statement on the Women’s March 2019

As many of you know, there has been a controversy surrounding the national leadership of the Women’s March and allegations concerning their affiliations with people and organizations that have expressed anti-Semitic sentiments. Some of you have asked whether, in light of this, Indivisible East Bay will be participating in the local Women’s March.

The short answer to this question is yes. As we did last year, we will be joining with Indivisible Berkeley and other allies to march, and we’ll have an informational table.

The longer answer is that the Women’s March Oakland is an independent entity, with its own leadership; although the marches all over the country are coordinated to the extent that they take place on the same day, use the same logo, operate under the same name, and more, the national organization and national leadership are separate from the local marches. Women’s March Oakland responded to the allegations of anti-Semitism, as soon as they broke, by organizing a training on dealing with “antisemitism and other kinds of hate.” Their homepage states: “We categorically denounce and reject all forms of bigotry and hate, including racism, sexism, antisemitism, Islamophobia, homophobia, transphobia, classism, xenophobia and ableism.” Their leadership has never, to our knowledge, broken this vow. We at IEB believe that this is the right message and that it’s appropriate to continue to participate in an event run by a group operating under these principles.

Beyond this, we urge you to read this powerful Jewish Women of Color Open Letter for important and too rarely-heard views on how we can fight against anti-Semitism and other forms of hatred, and fight for women’s rights and human rights, together, without seeking or giving into forces that seek division. Without minimizing or glossing over problems, we also note that Women’s March national has stated as a Unity Principle: “We must create a society in which all women – including Black women, Indigenous women, poor women, immigrant women, disabled women, Jewish women, Muslim women, Latinx women, Asian and Pacific Islander women, lesbian, bi, queer and trans women – are free and able to care for and nurture themselves and their families, however they are formed, in safe and healthy environments free from structural impediments.”

If you plan to attend the Women’s March Oakland, we encourage you to join us; look for our banner with our distinctive logo. If you prefer not to attend the March, we respect that decision, and we hope that you understand and respect our reasons to participate.

You need to call: No Wall, No Way!

Deadline: today and every day –

The Current Occupant told his supporters to call their elected representatives and say build that wall. An Indivisible East Bay member who was in Senator Feinstein’s D.C. office last week heard interns taking calls from people doing just that. What she didn’t hear: people calling to say No Wall!

Our Senators have spoken out against the wall, but they need our support when some of their constituents overwhelmingly demand this crime against decency … You know what to do. Do it, today and every day!

What you can say:

My name is ___, my zip code is ___, and I’m a member of Indivisible East Bay. I’m calling to thank Senator Feinstein/Harris for opposing the idea of building a border wall. The Wall is anti-humanitarian, anti-environmental, and a terrible waste of resources. Please don’t give in. No wall!

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

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

For more information, here are some things we’ve written in the past about why the Wall is such a disastrously bad idea:

 

 

 

 

No More Likability BS

Oh, those women politicians. So smart. So accomplished. Why can’t they just be more … likable?

We’re calling BS. In fact, we’re calling it #LikabilityBS. And if you’re already as tired as we are of this everything-old-is-new-again campaign, we invite you to join us in calling out the media when we see them trivializing women elected officials, women candidates, or any powerful women by focusing on their supposed personality defects – or supposed problems with their dancing, their hair, their wardrobes, their unladylike language, or anything else that anyone thinks they need to make over to please the boys.

Here are some great ways to say: you don’t have to like them; you don’t have to like me; but you do have to take women seriously, and you do have to start covering our substantive positions and issues.

What you can do:

  • Call out the BS on social media. It’s easy to re-post and collect frowny faces, but the point is to educate and mobilize:
    • Educate by posting and showing people the BS going on;
      • Beyond posting on your own social media pages, amplify your message by writing comments on the Facebook page, Twitter or Instagram accounts for the media channel, reporter, pundit, etc., that you want to call out;
    • Mobilize by telling people what they can do: for example, sharing a letter to the editor that you’ve written (see below for how-to), or linking people to this page telling them how they can fight the #likabilityBS
      • Ask people to retweet or share your social media posts and comments
  • Write a letter to the editor: Most print and online media have a “letters to the editor” section, and this is a great way to reach the public. Criticize a publication for engaging in #likabilityBS or praise it for giving good coverage, or take it to task for not talking about substantive issues – you choose how to frame the discussion. Some newspapers have specific requirements: for example, that letter writers must be local to their distribution area or be subscribers – so be sure to check their rules! In general, letters to the editor are most likely to be printed if they are:
    • short – aim for 250 words or shorter
    • from you as an individual, not as a representative of a group
    • clear – let people know exactly what you’re talking about. If you’re responding to something the newspaper published (as opposed to something going on in society in general), refer to it specifically by the title and date of the article.
    • to the point – talk about one thing, not everything that’s on your mind.
    • written in a reasonable tone – avoid nastiness and DON’T YELL!!!!
    • written with proper grammar, syntax, spelling and punctuation – use your computer’s editing functions, ask a friend to read it over. Newspapers have editors, but they’re far more likely to print something that’s accurate to begin with.
  • Use the same tools and techniques to thank and compliment the media when they get it right!
  • Follow and support independent media and voices and spread the word:
    • Progressive Voices provides politically progressive content to consumers via mobile device and online
    • Free Speech TV is a national, independent news network committed to advancing progressive social change
    • Media Matters for America is a progressive research and information center dedicated to comprehensively monitoring, analyzing, and correcting conservative misinformation in the U.S. media
    • ResistanceLive is a daily broadcast on Facebook, YouTube and iTunes that provides political updates for the Resistance, brought to you by Elizabeth Cronise McLaughlin
    • Local AM radio station Real Talk 910 broadcasts forward-thinking political talk and opinions featuring Stephanie Miller, Thom Hartmann and Norman Goldman.

Graphic © Walt Disney’s Cinderella, Little Golden Book adapted by Campbell Grant

Support the Green New Deal

Protecting Our Future
Graphic © Elected Officials to Protect America

By Anne Spevack

Deadline: right now – Support for the Green New Deal (GND) keeps growing! At the COP24 UN Climate Talks in Katowice, Poland, over 300 state and local elected officials from the U.S. signed a letter calling for a GND approach to phase out fossil fuel use. The letter calls for jurisdictions in the U.S. to take steps to produce clean and renewable energy; refuse permits for new oil, coal, and gas projects; and reduce subsidies for fossil fuels. The letter also recognizes that a concerted national effort is needed, and calls for a national GND plan to guide investment in renewable energies and move our economy away from fossil fuels.

East Bay signatories to the letter include Berkeley and Richmond mayors Jesse Arreguin and Tom Butt, and City Council members from Berkeley, El Cerrito, Emeryville, Fremont, Hayward, Oakland, Richmond, and San Leandro. Missing: mayors from every other East Bay city, many City Council members, and all our state senators and assembly members. Check to see whether your elected officials are on the letter, and if not, tell them to sign on! Don’t know who they are or how to contact them? Find them using this handy search tool.

What to say:

My name is ____, my zip code is _____, and I’m a Member of Indivisible East Bay. I am deeply concerned about the growing hazards that climate change is creating in our communities, most recently the devastating wildfires and worsening droughts. Thank you for helping protect our local communities and environment. But there is only so much our local communities can do. We need a national plan. Please sign on to the letter from Elected Officials to Protect America at uselectedofficials.org and join the hundreds of state and local representatives calling for a Green New Deal to protect our environment and our economy.

What else you can do:

Read our recent article for background info on the Green New Deal and to learn how you can help, including by asking your Members of Congress to publicly support the proposal and to pressure House leadership to ensure it is a priority in the new congressional session.

Anne Spevack is an expert on transportation and infrastructure issues with a passion for the environment, and is rapidly becoming an expert in the Green New Deal.

Find out what it’s like: Witness at the Texas Border

Just reading about the administration’s mistreatment of refugees at the U.S.-Mexico border is enough to bring people to tears: from family separation to unlawful prolonged detention to the death of a seven-year old girl while in Border Patrol custody. In response, most of us sympathize, we offer support, we protest.

Some do more, including local activist Tomi Nagai-Rothe, who spent two and a half weeks at the border volunteering with the Texas Civil Rights Project. Hear Tomi speak about her eye-opening and heart-wrenching experience as a “Witness at the Texas Border” at an event sponsored by the El Cerrito Progressives on Saturday, January 5, from 3 to 4:30 PM, at Berkeley Zion Presbyterian Church, 545 Ashbury Ave., El Cerrito.

Tomi will also delve into why, as covered in a detailed ACLU report, the entire argument for extending a wall along the border is built on a foundation of quicksand unmoored from factual evidence. In fact, studies show that border walls “do not make the U.S. safer or significantly reduce smuggling or immigration.” There will also be an opportunity to learn about new local initiatives to support immigrants.

Ready to do more?

It’s not too late to contact your Members of Congress and insist that they keep funding for Immigration and Customs Enforcement and Customs and Border Protection in check by fighting for a budget with no new funding for the wall or border enforcement. Read our article for more information and call scripts.

And check out these organizations, which are doing good work and need your help:

Graphic by Tomi Nagai-Rothe

Turn the Blue Wave into the Green New Deal

By Anne Spevack

The Blue Wave created the new Blue House, ready to begin its legislative session in January 2019 – and a top priority of some incoming members of the Blue House is the multifaceted environmental/economic “Green New Deal.” Like the Blue Wave, this new plan needs all of our voices in order to succeed: We need to let our legislators know it’s a priority, and we need to tell them to tell others. There will be continuing action on this front, and we’ll keep you updated with ways to support specific Green New Deal policies as they develop. For now, you can take action by telling your Members of Congress you want them to publicly support the Green New Deal; asking them to push House leadership to make the Green New Deal a priority in the new congressional session; and asking them to follow the lead of Barbara Lee and others who support the formation of a Select Committee focused on its development and implementation (or, if Barbara Lee is your Member of Congress, thanking her!).

Keep reading for background about the Green New Deal; you’ll find information on how to contact your Members of Congress, and what to tell them, at the end of this article.

What is the Green New Deal?

The Green New Deal is a blanket term for a growing set of plans and policies that aim both to transform the economy and fight climate change – in fact, to transform the economy through fighting climate change. The primary environmental goal would be to rapidly eliminate carbon and other greenhouse gas emissions, while the economic goal would be to reduce unemployment, poverty and inequality through government-sponsored and subsidized jobs.  Though the specific actions and policies are still being defined, initial proposals mobilize the economy by creating jobs, training, and education through investments in climate-resilient infrastructure (like sea walls, smart grids, and mass transit systems) and expansion of renewable energy production. The Green New Deal rejects traditional assumptions that anything that is good for the environment is bad for the economy, instead recognizing that green industries already employ lots of workers of a variety of skill levels, and that we have only scratched the surface of that potential.

While the term “Green New Deal” dates back to the mid-2000s and was used by President Obama to frame some of his platform supporting renewable energy and infrastructure projects, the current push to make a Green New Deal is spearheaded by some of the new progressive representatives recently elected to the House, such as Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, as well as the youth-led Sunrise Movement. Taking a progressive mandate from the Blue Wave and understanding the urgency of climate change, these representatives-elect are already working with Democratic and progressive members of Congress to set up the House for action on climate change in the next session.

How do we get a Green New Deal?

Ultimately, the Green New Deal will be made up of individual policies, rules, and funding sources supporting sustainable industries and green jobs, but proponents are currently pushing for a comprehensive plan to guide and coordinate these actions. A proposal by Ocasio-Cortez states that the Green New Deal plan would be a “detailed national, industrial, economic mobilization plan … for the transition of the United States economy to become carbon neutral and to significantly draw down and capture greenhouse gases from the atmosphere and oceans to promote economic and environmental justice and equality.”

Ocasio-Cortez and the new class of progressives in the House, with help from the Sunrise Movement, support the creation of a new Select Committee on a Green New Deal, which would be tasked with developing a Plan for a Green New Deal by 2020 and would serve as a focal point for related efforts. A Select Committee, unlike permanent or standing committees, is temporary and investigates a particular issue outside the realm of or at the intersection of the existing permanent Congressional committees. Although the Select Committee proposal has gained the most traction, some incumbent Members of Congress argue that maintaining the existing committee structure would allow Democrats to focus on building power and pressure in existing committees that already have the most power over purse strings and authorization.

Whatever the particular structure, Indivisible East Bay-ers know that climate change is one of the most pressing issues of our time and demands immediate and focused action. The current proposal commits the House to make a plan for action on climate change, our economy, and environmental justice by 2020. Support among legislators is growing; our own Representative Barbara Lee recently publicly supported this proposal and we trust her experience to know that this is a viable and effective path moving forward.

What you can do:

Ask your Member of Congress to publicly support the Green New Deal and encourage House leadership to form the Select Committee. Please call to thank Representative Lee for publicly supporting the Green New Deal. Representatives DeSaulnier and Swalwell have indicated support; please ask them to publicly support the proposal. Ask all of them to pressure House leadership to ensure the Green New Deal is priority in the new congressional session.

What to say:

If you are represented by Rep. Lee:

My name is ____, my zip code is _____, and I’m a member of Indivisible East Bay. Thank you for supporting the Green New Deal. The United States needs to take immediate action on climate change, and I know it can be done in a way that supports our economy and our workers. Please continue your commitment to sustainability and use your influence to ensure the Green New Deal is a priority in the new Congress.

Rep. Barbara Lee (email): (510) 763-0370 DC: (202) 225-2661; 1301 Clay Street #1000N, Oakland CA 94612

If you are represented by Rep. Swalwell or DeSaulnier:

My name is ____, my zip code is _____, and I’m a member of Indivisible East Bay. The United States needs to take immediate action on climate change, and I know it can be done in a way that supports our economy and our workers. I ask you to publicly support the Green New Deal, which is the only concrete proposal to ensure action on climate change. Please continue your commitment to sustainability and use your influence to ensure the Green New Deal is a priority in the new Congress.

Rep. Mark DeSaulnier (email): (510) 620-1000 DC: (202) 225-2095; 440 Civic Center Plaza, 2nd Floor, Richmond, CA 94804

Rep. Eric Swalwell (email): (510) 370-3322 DC: (202) 225-5065; 3615 Castro Valley Blvd., Castro Valley CA 94546

Anne Spevack is an expert on transportation and infrastructure issues with a passion for the environment, and is rapidly becoming an expert in the Green New Deal.

Carbon Price is Right

Deadline: today and every day –

A tip of the hat to Senators Dianne Feinstein and Kamala Harris, who have signed the Senate resolution “expressing the need for bold climate action” in response to the recent UN report on global warming. The Senate resolution is non-binding, but it’s still important for our government to make this statement when the Denier-in-Chief is burying climate change reports.

But we need more than words — we need ACTION. We need carbon pricing. Bills currently in Congress, such as S. 2352 (cap and trade), S. 2368 (carbon tax), and H.R. 7173 (carbon fee and dividend) — a new bipartisan bill introduced just this month — promote different methods of carbon pricing, with different economic theories and ramifications. Our Senators haven’t said which model they like, and haven’t backed any of the bills. It’s deeply wonky stuff, but it’s crucial.

And as in so many environmental matters, California should take the lead. Read more in the climate change section of our recent briefing memo for Sen. Harris, and then tell both our Senators:

My name is _____, my zip code is _____, and I’m a member of Indivisible East Bay. Thank you for signing the Senate resolution on climate action. We need you to follow up by demanding true action, by supporting one or more of the carbon pricing bills now before Congress. We need to act before it’s too late, and California should lead the way.

  • Sen. Dianne Feinstein: (email); (415) 393-0707 • DC: (202) 224-3841; 1 Post Street, Suite 2450, San Francisco CA 94104
  • Sen. Kamala Harris: (email); (415) 355-9041 • DC: (202) 224-3553; 333 Bush Street, Suite 3225, San Francisco CA 94104