Menashi: Unfit to sit

By Ann G. Daniels

The bad news: Steven Menashi, nominated to the super-important Second Circuit Federal Court of Appeals, thinks it’s “obvious” that Western culture, government, science, etc. is superior to everything else, especially everything Muslim; was a top legal advisor on Betsy DeVos’ plan to protect for-profit colleges that ripped off their students; and has denounced feminists, LGBTQ+ rights, and diversity efforts. The good news: he’s so bad that even Sen. Susan Collins has said she’ll oppose him, and his supporters in the administration and the Senate repeatedly had to postpone the Senate Judiciary Committee vote on his nomination before the Committee passed the nomination 12-10 on party lines on November 7. The bad news: now the nomination proceeds. And while we don’t yet have a date for the next vote, and trying to predict what the Senate will do is a little like trying to predict the future by reading chicken entrails, we have to be ready.

More good news, though: Senators Feinstein and Harris – both of whom voted no in the Senate Judiciary Committee – have already spoken out on this appalling nominee. And there’s a chance that Sen. Collins and other Republicans will cross party lines when the full Senate votes.

Senator Feinstein has expressed her concerns about Menashi’s “role at the White House” and his lack of disclosure about his work there, including on issues including family separation; and about his work under Betsy DeVos and the Department of Education’s efforts to reverse sexual assault protections, use federal funds to buy guns for teachers, and reverse attempts to crack down on deceptive for-profit colleges. She has also expressed deep concern over his racist statements, since a judge – especially in an area as diverse as that governed by the Second Circuit – must be impartial toward all who come before him

Similarly, Senator Harris has stressed that Menashihas refused to answer questions” about his work in the White House or whether he was “involved in Trump’s call with Ukrainian President Zelensky,” and she has also cited his work for Betsy DeVos on “predatory for-profit colleges.” She finds his nomination “Unacceptable.” 

We agree. As the NAACP so eloquently says: “Steven Menashi has a vile, offensive record … Under no scenario should he sit in Thurgood Marshall’s former seat on the Second Circuit and preside in the Thurgood Marshall Courthouse.”

What to do:

Please thank our Senators for speaking out on this unacceptable nominee, and urge them to stand strong and keep speaking out.

What to say:

My name is ___, my zip code  is ______, and I’m a member of Indivisible East Bay. I want to thank Senator _____ for speaking out with her concerns about Steven Menashi, and I want to urge her to keep speaking out. I trust she will vote NO on Menashi’s confirmation to the U.S. Court of Appeals and I hope she’ll do everything possible to persuade her colleagues to vote NO. Menashi has shown that he’s hostile towards Muslims, women, the LGBTQ+ community, lower-income families, and immigrants. He cannot be trusted to fairly decide matters before the court. 

  • Sen. Dianne Feinstein: (email); (415) 393-0707 • DC: (202) 224-3841
  • Sen. Kamala Harris: (email); (415) 981-9369 • DC: (202) 224-3553

Do you live outside California, or have friends or family in other states? Use this link to find contact info for your Senators: https://www.usa.gov/elected-officials. Or call the Capitol Hill switchboard at (202) 224-3121, ask to be transferred to your Senator, and say this:

Hello, my name is ____ and my zip code is _____. Please vote NO on Steven Menashi’s confirmation to the U.S. Court of Appeals. Menashi has shown that he’s hostile towards Muslims, women, the LGBTQ+ community, lower-income families, and immigrants. He cannot be trusted to fairly decide matters before the court. 

 

Ann G. Daniels’ checkered professional background includes practicing law, reproductive rights advocacy, creating web content for nonprofits and educational organizations, and teaching adult and family literacy. She also designs jewelry, teaches knitting, and sings second soprano.

“Thurgood Marshall U.S. Courthouse”, photograph by Ken Lund

 

 

Election Security Day of Action, Plus John Oliver

Deadline: November 13 Day of Action –

We’ve written before about the state of our elections and the security, or rather the profound lack of security, of our voting machines. We’ve told you about foreign interference and the desperate need for money to actually secure our votes. We’ve mentioned that there is $600 million authorized for securing our voting machines if only it can get past the Senate, and we’ve asked you to take action on this.

But – we’re not John Oliver. He wants to ask you the same thing and he has a very funny but very serious take on voting machines. Here’s just a sampling of what you can learn from watching him explain the rickety and unstable edifice that elections in America are built on:

Having fun yet? If you have 20 minutes, you’ll be glad you watched the whole thing. Then come back here, or just read on for the important part, when we tell you what you can do about these problems.

Back? Good.

Our election systems are in dire need of upkeep and real security, and the money to make that happen is currently blocked in Congress. We need to persuade the Senators standing in the way that these funds are critical to our national security and our democracy, and that this money must be disbursed with rules in place to make sure it’s actually used to make sure we can vote without interference.

This message is not getting out, but you can amplify it to make sure it’s heard before the budget process ends for the year on Thursday November  21.

What you can do about it, by next week:

Secure Our Vote, which hosted a similar event in September, is planning a Day of Action on Wednesday November 13 to draw attention to this vote and to the Senators voting on it. You can:

  • Join an existing rally scheduled near you on November 13.
    • There’s a visit at Senator Feinstein’s office at 1 Post St., Post & Market, San Francisco, at noon.
    • RSVP to join any other rally by clicking on the Sign Up Now link below it.
    • Remember: even a few people showing up will matter!
  • Sign up to host a rally outside Senate offices on November 13.
    • You don’t have to figure out how to do it! When you sign up they’ll send you detailed instructions and support. You can also watch this very useful video (one hour) explaining how to host.
    • These don’t have to be large rallies! Even a dozen people appearing to ask about election security at each Senate office helps push this process into the light.
  • Sign up for a drop in visit with your Senators on November 12.
  • Encourage people you know to attend rallies scheduled near them.
  • Call your elected officials about election security funding, starting NOW, to build up pressure on them leading to November 13. Use the hotline at 833-413-5906 – it walks you through all the steps and makes it very easy.
  • Learn more about what you need to know to make elections safe at Secure Our Vote’s Election Security Organizing Worksheet. This is, for better and for worse, an ongoing fight. The questions they teach you to ask are critical to understanding how to help elections be safe in your districts and states.

Photo of John Oliver by Steve Jennings for TechCrunch

November 2019 debate watch party

Deadline: RSVP now, space limited –

Friends don’t let friends watch the presidential debates alone! Join Indivisible East Bay’s CA-11 Team on Wednesday, November 20, at 5:30 pm in the Scene Room of the El Cerrito Rialto Cinema, at 10070 San Pablo Ave. a few blocks from El Cerrito Plaza BART station. We’ll watch the debate, discuss the merits of the Democratic presidential candidates, enjoy food and refreshments from the theater, and learn from each other how to make sure the eventual nominee gets elected.

We’re keeping this event small so we can talk amongst ourselves (and fit around the table), but that means we need you – and your friends – to RSVP! All are welcome, not just those who live in the CA-11 district.

Got questions about the event? Want to know about IEB’s CA-11 Team and its work? Want to see what we do at our monthly meetings when the candidates aren’t debating? You can read more about the team at this January 2019 article. And contact the team at IndivisibleCA11@gmail.com or if you’re on Slack, contact @Ted Lam or @KristenL and join the moc_team_ca11 team. Want an invite to join Slack? Please drop us a line at info@indivisibleeb.org

Graphic “Debate picture” by Blok Glo

Indivisible’s meeting with Rep. Swalwell

By Ward Kanowsky

Members of Indivisible East Bay and Livermore Indivisible met with Representative Eric Swalwell (CA-15) and his staff over Monday morning coffee on November 4, 2019 at Inkling’s Coffee & Tea in Pleasanton. Our discussion focused on the impeachment inquiry and where it’s heading. The two Indivisible chapters asked a range of questions and offered input during our hour-long meeting with Swalwell, who sits on the House Intelligence and Judiciary committees – the two committees that will play the most critical roles during the impeachment proceedings.

Even as we met, a lot was going on. Two sets of transcripts from the closed door depositions were released that day, and Rep. Swalwell was keeping tabs on witnesses who were still scheduled for the closed door interviews during the week: John Eisenberg from the National Security Council was already a no-show for the day and Swalwell was skeptical that former National Security Advisor John Bolton would testify on Thursday as scheduled. We asked Swalwell about holding such witnesses in contempt – beyond the obstruction of Congress tool that has been used for past witnesses who have defied the proceedings. He responded that he and his colleagues have been working with Good Government Now, a non-profit organization founded to strengthen congressional subpoena enforcement, to determine if Congress can levy fines of up to $10,000/day on such witnesses, rather than have the Sergeant-at-Arms take them into custody.

The open, public hearings should begin by next week. While Rep. Swalwell said Republicans such as Devin Nunes (CA-22) and John Ratcliffe (TX-4) are likely to pull some “stunts” and try to turn the proceedings “into a circus,” the Democrats’ approach will be to keep the “testimony professional.” In this regard, staff attorneys for the Democratic representatives on the Intelligence Committee will ask most of the questions of the witnesses during the open hearings to provide this professionalism, while also setting out the strongest, prosecutorial case for a trial in the Senate. Swalwell had high praise for committee chair Rep. Adam Schiff (CA-28), whom he called the best person to oversee the hearings, saying that Schiff is “measured and unflappable.” Also, when it comes to public opinion polls, he believes it helps the Democrats when they act with dignity.

With regard to potential articles of impeachment to be determined by the House Judiciary Committee, the focus will be on the conduct of the president, especially where “sharp lines” can be drawn. For example, Swalwell believes a clear connection back to the president has been shown in the whistle-blower complaint alleging that the president used his office to solicit interference from Ukraine in the 2020 election; the president has confessed, and witnesses who listened in on the July 25 call with the head of Ukraine have corroborated the allegations. He called the president’s acts “extortion” and “defense dollars for dirt,” and noted that the subsequent coverup by the White House is obstruction. We asked about the president’s other misdeeds, and he said he sees the ten acts of obstruction laid out in the Mueller report as “prior bad acts” that could be included in the articles, as well as possible violations of campaign finance laws when payments of hush money were made to adult film actress Stormy Daniels.

The Senate hasn’t really felt any pressure yet on the impeachment issue, with many Republican Senators staying silent. Rep. Swalwell sees this as a wise move on their part, but at the same time hopes they will keep an open mind if and when there is a trial. From a strategic standpoint, this is also why he wants to ensure a fair process in the House before passing the case over to the Senate, with the Democrats showing restraint and demonstrating a well-prepared professional approach. He expressed some concern that once the process moves to the Senate, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell could just call for an immediate yes or no vote on whether to dismiss the articles.

We told Swalwell about steps Indivisible has been taking to support the impeachment process, including:

  • Indivisible hubdialer tool – goal is to call 1.1 million voters in key Senate Republican states, tell them what’s at stake in the impeachment inquiry, and then drive calls to the Senate offices. Over 300,000 calls have been made so far.
  • Nobody is Above the Law impeachment events – partnering with MoveOn, Stand Up America, and many other groups, to organize rallies across the country on the night before the House votes on articles of impeachment. Over 160 events are registered so far,

Rep. Swalwell liked both these ideas and thought they were effective tools. He asked whether Senators Martha McSally (R-AZ) and Cory Gardner (R-CO) are included in the Hubdialer calls (they are). He also praised the Indivisible organization and said the 2018 midterm blue wave “would not have happened without Indivisible.”

Swalwell acknowledged that since impeachment has taken over the headlines, Democrats need to do a better job of letting people know about all of the other work accomplished in the House. Over 200 bills have been passed, including major legislation around background checks (H.R.8) and equal pay for equal work (H.R.7). The bills now need to be taken up by the Senate and this process has been thwarted by Senator McConnell. Swalwell proposed online campaigns aimed specifically at McConnell, to get word out about bills passed through the House and awaiting action in the Senate – possibly calling them #YourCourtMitch and #WePassedThat. He said this is also an action item where Indivisible could be very helpful. We’ll be looking into it in the future!

If you have questions or want to participate with the CA-15 team, contact Ward on Slack at @ward or by email at wardkanowsky@gmail.com.

Ward Kanowsky is co-lead, with LeAnn Kanowsky, of the Indivisible East Bay CA-15 Team.

Photo by Mallory De Lauro, Rep. Swalwell’s District Director and Foreign Affairs Adviser.

 

October 2019 Visit with Sen. Feinstein staff

The day before Halloween, as fires and blackouts were plaguing the state, a small group from Indivisible East Bay met with Senator Feinstein’s field representative Abby Ellis (and, for part of the meeting, with state director Jim Lazarus, who had to leave early to deal with the ongoing crises).

We asked Sen. Feinstein to be sure to block any government spending bills that give money to – or allow the administration to steal money for – harmful immigration enforcement, including the stupid wall. The next day she and her colleagues blocked a military spending bill that did just that! Thanks to everyone who called and emailed. Now, please call again, and thank Sen. Feinstein. Our calls of thanks are very important, as our Members of Congress receive plenty of calls from the other side, and staff lets us know when they don’t hear from us supporting their positive actions.

We also talked about the Climate Emergency as it relates both to the California fires and to federal funding for NOAA and NASA, which the Senate is actually handling well so far. We followed up on one of the big asks from our September Q&A with Jim in Berkeley, for Sen. Feinstein to co-sponsor Sen. Sanders’ Climate Emergency Concurrent Resolution, S.Con.Res.22 – but apparently Sen. Feinstein is still hung up on the fact that Sen. Sanders hasn’t put significant effort into recruiting her for it.

In Abby’s opinion, there is nothing Sen. Feinstein can do to either help asylum-seeking families turned away at our border or investigate the government’s improper role in sending them back to danger. She did say that the senator is committed to working to fix the problem if she ever becomes chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Speaking of taking back the Senate: we asked whether, if the Democrats did retake the Senate and the Republicans abused the filibuster, Sen. Feinstein would vote to eliminate the filibuster in order to address vital issues like gun safety, the climate crisis, and democracy expansion. Abby’s answer of “we’ll see” was a slight improvement over the last time we asked a similar question, when we got a “but bipartisanship!” answer. 

We also mentioned that we are counting on Sen. Feinstein to hold Trump accountable when impeachment reaches the Senate. And we checked back in about oversight of treatment of migrant children in detention with special needs (Abby does not know if they’ve looked into it), the stalled Violence Against Women Act reauthorization (Abby blamed Sen. Ernst for the lack of progress), and the American Family Act (still no reason given for not co-sponsoring).

The fire this time

By Ann G. Daniels and Andrea Lum

Once again, our hearts go out to our friends in the north affected by the Kincade and Burris fires, including our colleagues in Indivisible Healdsburg and Indivisible Petaluma. At the same time, we’re outraged, looking at yet another year of environmental and personal devastation. We’re demanding justice, along with offering ways we can all help.

What you can do:

Support the environment and all of us:

California is well-known as an environmental leader. But did you know that the East Bay is on the map for environmental problems? Poor air quality takes a terrible health toll in neighborhoods where people of color live in East and West Oakland, and “residents of West Oakland and Downtown Oakland neighborhoods have higher rates of asthma emergency room visits as well as stroke and congestive heart failure” than other Alameda County residents. Meanwhile, the recent explosion at the NuStar refinery in Crockett sent heavy smoke into nearby neighborhoods, and only the lack of wind kept toxins from spreading.

  • Speak up for “The Path to Clean Air in the Richmond and San Pablo Area” clean air at this event on Saturday, November 2 at 10 AM at the Richmond Memorial Auditorium. Spanish interpretation and child watch provided. Free; register here.
  • Join No Coal in Richmond in their ongoing struggle to – you guessed it, get coal out of Richmond, along with the toxic dust from coal and petroleum coke. Check out their webpage for more info on the group and their activities.
  • Encourage your local media and everyone you know to talk about climate change – it’s what’s fueling all these fires, not to mention other recent devastating fires throughout the West
  • California is a leader in fighting against greenhouse gas emissions – and Trump has targeted our state. Tell your Members of Congress to prioritize fighting the Administration’s all-out war against California’s environmental accomplishments:
    • Sen. Dianne Feinstein: (email); (415) 393-0707 • DC: (202) 224-3841
    • Sen. Kamala Harris: (email); (415) 981-9369 • 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
    • Not local? Use this link to contact your Members of Congress.

Support immigrants during the crisis:

  • According to Rep. Jared Huffman, ICE has suspended immigration enforcement during this crisis. Let’s hope it stays that way throughout the recovery process – and let’s not trust to hope. Tell your MoCs to support suspending immigration enforcement during this crisis and recovery process. See above for contact info for our local Members of Congress, as well as a link to be contacted to MoCs nationwide. What to say:

My name is ____, my zip code is ___, and I’m a member of Indivisible East Bay. I understand that ICE has suspended immigration enforcement during the fires in California. Please do everything you can to make sure that immigration enforcement stays suspended throughout this crisis, and through the recovery process. 

  • You can support these organizations that help undocumented families: 
    • Corazon Healdsburg is a bilingual community organization providing fire victims with immediate and long-term financial support, gift cards for food and other necessities, hotel vouchers, and a range of support services. 100% of all donations are immediately directed to supporting local families in need.
    • UndocuFund provides help for undocumented fire victims in Sonoma County, who cannot get help from FEMA or who are afraid to seek help from governmental agencies.

Help fire victims:

Important resources for people affected by the fires or PG&E shutoffs, including economically and medically vulnerable individuals:

  • Visit the State of California’s new resource website
  • The Governor’s State of Emergency declaration suspends a number of rules and regulations so residents and businesses affected by wildfires and power shutoffs can, for example, get unemployment benefits more quickly or get more time to pay fines or fees.
  • There’s a statewide non-emergency hotline to help medically vulnerable residents and health and community care facilities find resources during power shutoffs. Call 833-284-3473. 
  • Check out these tips for seniors and people with disabilities for during and after a power outage.
  • Here’s a list of PG&E community resource centers where residents can go to access services, charge cellphones, or get other help.
  • Sign up for alert systems in Alameda and Contra Costa counties to get up-to-date, real-time information on power outages and any services affected.

 

“Sunset Smoke”, sketch by Cathy McAuliffe, Instagram: @gusmcduffie

Ann G. Daniels’ checkered professional background includes practicing law, reproductive rights advocacy, creating web content for nonprofits and educational organizations, and teaching adult and family literacy. She also designs jewelry, teaches knitting, and sings second soprano.

Andrea Lum works in higher education by day and as the Volunteer Coordinator for IEB by night.

 

Fight forced DNA collection

By Heidi Rand; Ann G. Daniels contributed to this article

Deadline: Submit your comment by November 12, 2019 –

The Trump Department of (In)justice has unveiled yet another plan that targets the vulnerable immigrant community: this time, a rule to require the Department of Homeland Security to forcibly take DNA from immigrants in detention centers. The proposed regulation changes current implementation of the DNA Fingerprint Act of 2005, removing the DHS Secretary’s discretion to opt out of taking DNA from migrant detainees “because of operational exigencies or resource limitations.” DNA taken from asylum seekers and other detained migrants, with or without consent, would be added to a massive FBI database.

The 2005 Act allows DNA to be taken from both U.S. citizens and non-citizens, with one crucial difference: U.S. citizens must be arrested for or charged with or convicted of a crime, while non-citizens – immigrants – need only be detained by a federal agency, under either civil or criminal authority. In other words: DNA can be forcibly be taken from immigrants in detention even if they’re not charged with any crime.

Speak out to decry this intrusive plan that could affect more than 740,000 people every year. Your voice is needed – to date fewer than 100 comments have been filed. Read on to learn how to make your comment.

What you can do:

Leave a comment on this form on the Federal Register website by November 12, 2019

What to say:

We’ve got suggestions, but multiple identical comments may be discarded, so make your comment as effective as possible by writing in your own voice and emphasize what’s important to you, or describe how the policy would affect your own life and community. You can get more ideas from the comments other people have filed.

  • The proposed rule violates human rights laws and raises significant privacy concerns for vulnerable populations, including asylum seekers, non-criminal detainees, those intending to immigrate, and non-immigrant visa holders and students.
  • The rule change brands migrants in federal custody as criminal, even if they aren’t in detention for any criminal activity or charged with any criminal activity, and gathers private information that can be used against them.
  • This rule unfairly treats asylum seekers and other undocumented immigrants like criminals, even if they have not been charged with any criminal activity. U.S. citizens can only have DNA taken from them if they’ve been charged with or convicted of a crime.
  • The proposed rule treats people seeking a better life or safety as threats to this country’s security.
  • This rule is an excuse to enable DHS to turn civil immigration detention into a proxy to strip these individuals of their privacy rights.
  • This is a waste of resources. As fingerprints and a thorough background check are already required, an additional invasive DNA check is unnecessary and redundant.

Finally, the ACLU is circulating a petition against this plan. You could also adapt their wording: 

Reject any policy change allowing the forced collection of DNA from immigrants in detention sites without their consent. This would hinder the privacy of immigrants and their families and set a dangerous precedent for the future, enabling mass government surveillance. 

 

Graphic: “DNA Double Helix,” National Human Genome Research Institute, National Institutes of Health.

Heidi Rand fights the evil empire with skills gained as a Ninth Circuit staff attorney and civil rights lawyer, using words to resist, and to inform and inspire others to take action. She also wields a mean camera and knitting needles, though not at the same time.

Ann G. Daniels’ checkered professional background includes practicing law, reproductive rights advocacy, creating web content for nonprofits and educational organizations, and teaching adult and family literacy. She also designs jewelry, teaches knitting, and sings second soprano.

October 2019 All Members Meeting

By Michelle Hoselton

We greeted people to our October 27 All Members Meeting with fun-size candy bars, Swedish Fish gummies, and of course, Indivisible East Bay t-shirts (get ’em while they last at IEB events). Perfect fuel for the resistance!

Check-in featured a whiteboard survey asking people to show how they plan to help elect Democrats in 2020:

AMM 2020 electoral work survey, photo by Heidi Rand
AMM 2020 electoral work survey

We want to hear from you too – let us know all the ways you’re able to join us in 2020 electoral work, by email to info@indivisibleeb.org

The meeting began with a real treat: special guest Charlie Varon, a playwright, performer and teacher, presented his monologue “Cul de Sac” from his current production, Great American Sh*t Show, about his experiences canvassing and speaking with possibly unpersuadable voters in definitely unfamiliar neighborhoods.

Charlie Varon performing his monologue, photo by Heidi Rand
Charlie Varon performing his monologue

If you were there, you likely found yourself identifying with his tales of the fear, frustration and revelation that these interactions can bring – and with the urgent feeling of need to make a difference. Afterwards, Charlie talked to us in a Q&A about outreach, determination, and the burnout that can happen when we start to feel our efforts are fruitless – and he encouraged everyone in the room to keep fighting as we ramp up towards 2020. He also told us of some of the strategies Swing Left San Francisco, with which he works, is working on for CA-10 and CA-21, including hiring local young people in the area to canvass and GOTV.

Q&A with Charlie Varon, photo by Heidi Rand
Q&A with Charlie Varon

Some of Charlie’s thoughts about phone banking:

  • Phone banking is difficult but becomes easier the more you do it. 
  • Phone banking efforts are not in vain! Even if you don’t reach someone, you’re getting info that can be useful and make things easier for canvassers. 
  • For each person you reach via phone banking you can multiply your efforts by encouraging them to share with friends, family and co-workers. 
  • When you reach someone by phone, the best approach is to speak from the heart. 

There are more opportunities to hear the monologue, as well as the rest of Charlie’s show with Brian Copeland. Find a way to get to one – or more – of these shows! You can find upcoming dates and buy tickets here.   

Next, Governance Committee member Ion shared some moving words about the loss of beloved friend and fellow GC member Mel Bryson. Read more about the contributions of this irreplaceable member of our community here.

Before we broke into work groups, GC member and volunteer coordinator Andrea reminded us about IEB’s upcoming events:

  • Nov. 5, 6:30-9:30 PM: Join Indivisible Berkeley, IEB, East Bay Activist Alliance & SwingLeft EB at an Election Night Watch Party for Virginia elections. At Spats, Berkeley. No RSVP needed.
  • Nov. 8, 2 PM: IEB meeting with Sen. Harris’s staff, sign up here

Next up, our action breakouts: 

  • GC member and CA-11 team co-lead Ted led a group that wrote 60 letters with Vote Forward for the November 5 Virginia state house elections. Ted motivated the letter-writers by letting us know we’re only 3-4 seats away from flipping the entire state government to Democratic, and reminded us about the huge consequences of the election, such as redistricting for the next 10 years! 
  • GC member Fiona led another group that wrote 20 postcards for Reclaim Our Vote, an organization targeting voters of color in areas with high voter suppression, reminding them that their registration might have lapsed. Several people took more cards home to write as well. In addition, Oakland residents wrote cards to the Oakland city council supporting an ordinance requiring an approval process for police acquisitions of military equipment.
  • GC member Larry led a breakout about the model impeachment hearing he’s working on with members of Indivisible San Francisco and others. The impeachment inquiry continues to grow exponentially by the hour, keeping news pundits and Larry on their toes! With new testimony from Army Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman revealing even more misconduct by Trump and his administration, details for the Articles of Impeachment continue to pile up. Good thing we have Larry to help make sense of it all. He presented the history of impeachment in this country, some analysis of the process and his hopes for a broad and detailed scope. He also shared an Article of Impeachment model script, which he’s using to develop content for a video to help the public engage and understand this complex topic! The group took on roles and performed the script, providing feedback and leading to a lively discussion. 

IEB’s All Members Meetings take place on the fourth Sunday of every month, unless a holiday interferes. Next up: join us on Sunday, November 24, at Sports Basement, Berkeley. In the meantime, couldn’t make it to the AMM or allergic to meetings? Join us online where we do our planning and organizing— ask  info@indivisibleeb.org for an invite.

Photographs by Heidi Rand

 

 

 

Join Tax the Rich campaign

By Nancy Latham

Help shift the public narrative on taxes and the economy!

For decades, one narrative on taxes and the economy has dominated: lower taxes are better than higher taxes. The wealthiest, claiming the title of “job creator,” make this argument most loudly. They argue that if their taxes go up, the incentives to create jobs weaken, and the economy as a whole will suffer. And then where would we be?

Possibly somewhere much better. As it is, declining taxes have brought growing inequality in their wake:

Source: Piketty, T., Saez, E., and Zucman, G. 2018. “Distributional National Accounts: Methods and Estimates for the United States.” The Quarterly Journal of Economics. Vol. 133, No. 2.

 

Source: Piketty, T., Saez, E., and Zucman, G. 2018. “Distributional National Accounts: Methods and Estimates for the United States.” The Quarterly Journal of Economics. Vol. 133, No. 2.

Things are great for those at the top, but not so much for the rest of us. It’s time to face the fact that half a century of anti-tax orthodoxy is wrong. Low taxes on corporations and the wealthy don’t encourage job creation. On the contrary, since the payoff is so high, low taxes encourage the rich to extract wealth from the economy, rather than to invest. 

In short, it’s time we all start to recognize that taxing the rich will be good for the economy: it will result in more investment and more widely shared prosperity. Taxing the rich is also extraordinarily popular among the general public. Even so – or perhaps in an attempt to fight these facts? – the elite narrative around taxes remains the same as it always was: tax cuts will boost the economy. This tired idea was trotted out for the 2017 Trump tax cut. Let’s give it a long overdue farewell. 

What you can do:

The Tax March Organization has been working to shift the narrative about taxes since early in 2019, with its Tax the Rich campaign. And they’re bringing the campaign to San Francisco! That’s your cue to join the Tax March in front of City Hall for a press conference to lift up the voices of local activists and experts, reminding policymakers that we can help the economy – and our communities – by taxing the rich. 

  • WHEN: Wednesday November 6, 2019 at 11 AM
  • WHERE: San Francisco City Hall
  • WHAT YOU DO: Sign up here, come and bring your friends, and help build a new narrative about the relationship between taxes and prosperity!

For more info about the Tax March organization, read our article about the group and the training it held in April 2019. If you’re not in the SF Bay Area, or can’t make it to the press conference, join our fight for economic justice by signing up here.

Graphs source: Piketty, T., Saez, E., and Zucman, G. 2018. “Distributional National Accounts: Methods and Estimates for the United States.” The Quarterly Journal of Economics. Vol. 133, No. 2.

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.

 

 

Defunding Hate: What’s the Budget Got to do with it?

By Linh Nguyen and Ann G. Daniels

Deadline: Now, the budget bill is coming up fast –

This is where the rubber meets the road: the rubber erasers, and the mechanical pencils, and if you’ve got those wacky green eyeshades you can pull them out too. We’re gonna get nerdy and talk about how things really work in DC: how the budget process, and the way this administration has been screwing around with it, has been funding the racist immigration policies we’ve been fighting for the past three plus years. 

First, a look at why the budget process is so hugely important to this administration in making its anti-immigrant dreams come true. A brief glance at some of the lowlights shows something truly remarkable – they didn’t require any new legislation:

The Democratic House has passed a lot of good bills this year, but the Republican-controlled Senate hasn’t taken any of the significant ones up for so much as a debate – except for spending bills. Funding the government through the budget is mandatory; spending bills come up every year, and if the Senate ignores them the government shuts down, as we saw last winter. 

A few quick points about the appropriations process:

In any situation, where we choose to spend our money is hugely important and says a lot about our values. In our current situation, where other ways of lawmaking are cut off, lawmakers are forced to legislate by placing restrictions on how money may be spent. Unfortunately, Congress has so far largely declined to put in the effort to make those restrictions stick.

Now, let’s get into the weeds a bit.

The administration has abused budgetary authority to achieve their racist goals using three principal tactics: overspending, use of reprogramming authority, and failure to cooperate with Congressional oversight. The table below shows how they’ve used each of these:

Abuse of authorities


The following graph shows just one example of how ICE has overspent. ICE ratcheted up its funding twice per fiscal year – once in the final funding bill, when Congress invariably bailed ICE out for its overspending in the first part of the year, and then again by moving additional money into its account through transfers and reprogramming. ICE has consistently been funded to detain an average of 40,500 people per day, but has detained significantly more, peaking at 48,019 individuals in detention in early January 2019 in the midst of the government shutdown.

Overspending on detention beds

 

Immigration detention timeline
Immigrant detention funding fight timeline


Where we are now:
In September 2019, Congress passed a Continuing Resolution (CR), a temporary measure to keep the government funded and operating for a limited period of time – in this case, until November 21. The good news: it didn’t fund the racist border wall, and it didn’t increase funding for immigration detention beds. The bad news: it didn’t do anything to keep the administration from stealing money from military families and disaster relief and using it for anti-immigrant purposes, which it’s been doing through its reprogramming authority – allowing money funded for one purpose to be used for another purpose within the Department of Homeland Security. When the CR expires in November, Congress will have to pass a spending bill – and we want it to do the job right.

What you can do:

Tell your Members of Congress:

My name is ___, my zip code is ___, and I’m a member of Indivisible East Bay. Thank you for refusing to fund Trump’s racist wall and for passing a spending bill in September that didn’t increase funding for immigration detention beds at the border. But I was disappointed the September Continuing Resolution did nothing to keep the administration from stealing money from military families and disaster relief, as it’s been doing all year. When the CR expires in November, I want you to work to pass a spending bill that safeguards our tax dollars from this corrupt and racist administration. If Trump wants to steal more money from the American people, he will need to shut down the government again to do it.

  • Sen. Dianne Feinstein: (email); (415) 393-0707 • DC: (202) 224-3841
  • Sen. Kamala Harris: (email); (415) 981-9369 • 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

Do you live outside the East Bay, or have friends in other districts or states? Spread the word! Use this link to find contact info for all Members of Congress.

For more info, including a presentation by Indivisible East Bay’s Linh Nguyen of this material and more, watch Impeachment University’s video of the Town Hall hosted by the Equal Justice Society.

For complete slide deck, see IEB - DefundHate-EJS-Townhall
.

Linh Nguyen is one of several IEB congressional procedure pedants.

Ann G. Daniels’ checkered professional background includes practicing law, reproductive rights advocacy, creating web content for nonprofits and educational organizations, and teaching adult and family literacy. She also designs jewelry, teaches knitting, and sings second soprano.