Help elect Barrow Georgia Sec’y of State

Secretary of State — that’s a position we often don’t pay attention to till election time rolls around and we realize we’re stuck with a Republican who has abused the position to disenfranchise minorities and suppress voters’ rights — Georgia, we’re lookin’ at you! Georgia, where Brian Kemp, who “won” (yeah, we do mean cheated and stole) the governor’s race against Stacey Abrams before resigning as Secretary of State (SoS).

Well, it’s time to pay attention! Democrat John Barrow is in a runoff election against Republican State Representative Brad Raffensperger to replace Kemp as the Georgia SoS on December 4, 2018. And even if you don’t live there, you can help ensure that the era of disenfranchisement ends now.

What you can do:

Thank Goodness for Them (And You)

Last year at this time we compiled a list of people and things that had the United States’s back in 2017. Keeping the tradition going, here’s our 2018 list of groups that helped Indivisible East Bay do our work, and that stood out for us as special heroes over the past crazy year. As we said last year: this list isn’t exhaustive- it’s not even close – but it’s a starting point.

Local Heroes

Though much of IEB’s work is done online (thanks, Slack!), we welcome the opportunity to join together IRL at meetings, actions, and events …  Since we’re not getting Koch $$ or Putin rubles, and our Soros-checks all bounced, we often rely on the kindness of local businesses and institutions. Big thank-yous to:

  • Sports Basement, Berkeley: for providing free meeting space at the coolest sports emporium in the Bay Area!
  • Cat Town, Oakland: for supporting democracy (and our phone banks!) while finding homes for kitties
  • Robinson House Consultants – especially Cassandra Benjamin, Oakland: for opening up their beautiful office space to IEB for our mega phone+text bank The Last Weekend Get Out The Vote efforts

Please patronize these terrific businesses, and tell them THANKS for helping IEB #resist!

Fellow Fighters: In the Election and in the Long Run

Some of these organizations were on last year’s list and some are new partners for us; some were formed just for the midterm elections, some we began working with during the midterm elections but they’ve been around since Current Occupant took office, and some address problems that predate 45. In the end, we decided to put all these organizations together, because – big picture – we’re all in the fight together.

  •  Black Voters Matter: As their website says, “effective voting allows a community to determine its own destiny.” IEB was proud to partner with BVM in text-banking at our GOTV efforts.
  • Democracy Action: Kudos for organizing so many resistance events, and gratitude for including ours on their list!
  • East Bay for TJ: The pundits said TJ Cox could never unseat David Valadao in CA-21. Our sources on the ground said differently. The race was initially called for Valadao but they’re still counting the ballots and the margin keeps narrowing.
  • Election Protection: ​This national, nonpartisan coalition, made up of more than 100 local, state and national partners, works year-round to advance and defend the right to vote.
  • Evolve CA: If you’ve attended IEB’s CA-11 team or All Member Meetings, you’ve heard about these local grassroots organizers who aim to reform Proposition 13. You’ll hear more from them!
  •  Flip the 14: Flip the 14 targeted – you guessed it – fourteen Congressional districts in the 2018 midterms. From their website: “Flip the 14 is working to strengthen the work of the Resistance throughout California.”
  • Indivisible Northern Nevada: A mighty force, they involved IEB in their Issue Voters Project, which helped make Nevada part of the Blue Wave.
  • Postcards to Voters: An online resource allowing activists to send handwritten reminders to targeted voters giving Democrats a winning edge in close, key races coast to coast. Prepare to be boggled: over 59,000 volunteers, in every state, and close to 4 million postcards to voters in over 130 key, close elections.
  • Resistance Labs: Making our list for the second year, this organization created by Oaklanders recruits virtual activists fighting the worst of Donald Trump’s agenda.
  • Vote Forward: They helped flip the House by sending letters – actual snail mail! – to unlikely voters.

All of You and Everything You’ve Done

We said it last year, and it’s more true than ever this year:

We are thankful for every phone call, every postcard, every difficult conversation with a loved one, every protest, every sign, every idea, every atom of energy you gave to our resistance this year. Despite how difficult it’s been, despite the psychic and social horror of it all, we have won far more often than we have lost. Our successes and our continued defense of the United States is down to you, your families, and your communities. Sincerely and with the deepest hope for our next year: thank you.

Graphic of ASL sign for “I love you” by John Hain

Protect the Farm Bill in Conference

We’ve been writing for some time about the Farm Bill, an immense piece of legislation that – among many, many other things – covers SNAP/CalFresh (aka food stamps). Once again, we need you to contact your members of Congress to protect this crucial benefit that helps one in eight Americans put food on the table.

This past June, H.R. 2, the version of the Farm Bill rammed through by Republicans in the House of Representatives, drastically cut access to SNAP; the Senate passed a version that protected the program; and the bill is now in conference to resolve differences between the two versions. These differences concerning SNAP have been a huge blocker to passing the legislation, which comes up for renewal every five years, but now Democrats have a stronger hand due to winning back the House. It will be hard to pass legislation between the election and next January, when the new Congress takes over (known as a lame duck session), and especially when control is passing from one party to another – but Congress seems determined to pass the Farm Bill, and they’re feeling heat to get it done.

Please call your members of Congress and tell them to protect SNAP and oppose any stringent requirements for these benefits. Find more info about SNAP here.

What to say:

My name is ___, my zip code is ___, and I’m a member of Indivisible East Bay. Thank you for your past support of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (aka SNAP). I’m calling to ask you to protect and strengthen SNAP and vote down any Republican efforts to weaken the program or cut its funding in the Farm Bill.

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

Don’t Let the Government Destroy Important Environmental Documents

Deadline: November 26, 2018

The Current Occupant’s tradition of lying is by now well-known, but sometimes it’s easier if something just … happens to the truth, especially to documentation of the truth. And so Ryan Zinke, Secretary of the Department of the Interior (at least as of this writing), has sent National Archives & Records Administration (NARA) a massive “Request for Records Disposition Authority” – or in normal language, a request to destroy a huge quantity of records concerning environmental protection.

What kind of records? The request involves documents about oil and gas leases, mining, dams, wells, timber sales, marine conservation, fishing, endangered species, non-endangered species, critical habitats, land acquisition, and lots more. Documents from every agency within the Interior Department, including the Bureau of Land Management, National Park Service, US Fish & Wildlife Service, US Geological Survey, Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement, Bureau of Indian Affairs, and others. Documents going back more than 50 years. Thousands of cubic feet of paper documents. Gigabytes of digital documents.

And there’s more. Besides documents that already exist, the proposed schedule of destruction will also apply to all future documents created in these categories (whether on paper or born digital). In other words: Records supporting environmental concerns could, literally, vanish in favor of the administration’s industry supporters and financers.

More details about the NARA procedure in general and this request in specific in this excellent resource.

What You Can Do

(1) Contact your Members of Congress:

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

Sample Script:

My name is _______, my zip code is ______, and I’m a member of Indivisible East Bay. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke has asked the National Archives for a massive destruction of records that normally are kept for historical purposes. This is an unusual and troubling request. I am asking you to investigate this request and to stop the destruction of important and valuable records. The National Archives ID number is DAA-0048-2015-0003.

(2) Email to request.schedule@nara.gov with a Public Comment. Deadline: November 26, 2018.

Sample Script:

My name is _______, my zip code is ______, and I’m a member of Indivisible East Bay. I am writing about action DAA-0048-2015-0003. I am against this massive destruction of records. This content would normally be kept and preserved by the U.S. Dept of Interior. I am asking National Archives to deny Secretary Zinke’s request so that these records are kept as they should be.

[Sign with your name, other contact info you wish to give out.]

 

Help Mike Espy win 11/27 special election

Deadline: today and through November 27 –

Surprise! Election season 2018 isn’t over! On November 27, 2018, Democrats have a chance to win a special election for the US Senate seat vacated by Thad Cochran in Mississippi. Representative Mike Espy, former Agriculture Secretary under Bill Clinton, is running against Trump-endorsed Republican Cindy Hyde-Smith, who replaced Cochran on an interim basis.

Espy, who would be Mississippi’s first African-American Senator since Reconstruction, is running as a moderate Democrat. He has stated his support for an increased minimum wage, paid family leave, expanding funding for Medicaid and CHIP, and women’s health initiatives and the right to choose.

We’re organizing events and publicizing other groups’ efforts to support Espy’s run because this is a chance to narrow the Senate’s partisan divide and hopefully force the GOP to the table on more issues. Below is information about our events and other ways you can get involved on your own. Please keep an eye on this post, our website, and the newsletter as we continue to organize to win this seat!

What you can do:

Act now to protect Mueller

Deadline: today and every day –

Hundreds of thousands of us took to the streets nationwide on November 8th to stand up for the rule of law and protect the independence of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Trump-Russia investigation. 

By forcing out Jeff Sessions, and illegally installing* the unqualified Matthew Whitaker as Acting Attorney General to oversee the Mueller investigation, Trump is blatantly moving to shut down the investigation into his own crimes and corruption. Whitaker has frequently criticized the Mueller investigation, echoing Trump’s “witch hunt” smear and proposed cutting Mueller’s budget. 

What to do NOW:

Contact your Members of Congress! Senators Feinstein and Harris have already spoken out, as have Representatives DeSaulnier, Lee, and Swalwell. Thank them and urge them to do everything they can to protect the independence of the investigation.

What to say:

My name is ______________, my zip code is ______, and I’m a member of Indivisible East Bay. Acting Attorney General Matt Whitaker has a profound conflict and must be removed from overseeing the Mueller investigation. Please do all you can in Congress to hold Trump accountable and protect the Mueller investigation.

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

What else you can do:

 

Indivisible East Bay members flooded the streets with their friends and fellow progressives in the several Bay Area Nobody Is Above the Law protests! Here are some photos from the El Cerrito event, which many IEB members helped organize.

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Photographs © Heidi Rand

*We don’t normally cite to news sources with paywalls, but in this case the linked article is an opinion piece in the New York Times, so we are citing to the original source

Rapid response protests called for 11/8 at 5 PM

BREAKING: PROTESTS CALLED FOR THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 8, 5 PM LOCAL TIME, by the Nobody Is Above the Law network

Donald Trump has installed a crony to oversee the Special Counsel Trump-Russia investigation, crossing a red line set to protect the investigation. By replacing Rod Rosenstein with just-named Acting Attorney General Matt Whitaker as special counsel Robert Mueller’s boss on the investigation, Trump has undercut the independence of the investigation. Whitaker has publicly outlined strategies to stifle the investigation and cannot be allowed to remain in charge of it.

The Nobody Is Above the Law network and its coalition of partners has demanded that Whitaker immediately commit not to assume supervision of the investigation, and its hundreds of response events are being launched to demonstrate the public demand for action to correct this injustice. The NIAL demands are:

  • Acting Attorney General Matt Whitaker has a profound conflict and must be removed from overseeing the Mueller investigation.
  • Congress must exercise its Constitutional authority to hold the President accountable and pass legislation to protect the Mueller investigation.
  • Any future Attorney General appointed by Trump must issue a public order giving Mueller full independence to complete the investigation without political interference.

What to do NOW:

 

Some ways to prepare:

  • Read the ACLU’s article Know Your Rights: Free Speech, Protests & Demonstrations
  • Download the ACLU’s Mobile Justice app to record police activity and send it immediately to the ACLU affiliate nearest you. Get the California app, MobileJusticeCA
  • Put the National Lawyers Guild hotline numbers into your phone, and write them on your arm in ink:
    • to call from local jails ONLY: 415-285-1011
    • outside of jail calls, call NLG hotline volunteers: 415-909-4NLG (4654)
    • if no answer, send an email to the NLG Demonstrations Committee at nlgsfhotline@protonmail.com
  • Get your go-bag together:
    • charged cell phone and portable power if you have
    • water bottle and energy bars or other portable food
    • medications you may need
    • layers of clothing to add if it gets cold
    • a sign with your message

Note, these are the “red lines” previously issued by MoveOn, Indivisible, and many other groups:

    • If Trump fires Mueller or Rosenstein
    • If Trump pardons key witnesses
    • If Trump takes another action that prevents the investigation from being conducted freely, such as replacing Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, Mueller’s current supervisor or repealing the regulations establishing the office
    • Additional red line added on Sept. 24: The Mueller investigation releases findings showing significant wrongdoing by Donald Trump. Or Congress or the administration blocks the public from seeing Mueller’s findings.

 

IEB’s Last Meeting With Sean

On October 24, 2018 Indivisible East Bay had our last-ever meeting with Senator Feinstein’s State Director Sean Elsbernd. It was also our last office visit with the Senator’s staff before the 2018 midterm elections, so it could possibly also be our last-ever Feinstein meeting – but as of this writing, that’s unlikely given her lead in the polls. Feinstein has given no indication yet on who will replace Sean as state director.

Our first topic was immigration. We followed up on Sen. Feinstein’s recent commitment to visit the detention facilities in California where separated kids are being held; Sean said she plans to make that visit soon after the election. Feinstein has also said that a comprehensive immigration reform bill is one of her priorities for the next Congress, especially if the Democrats win. We gave a list of priorities for such a bill, including legal status for immigrants, protection for asylum seekers, and less leeway for the executive branch to make the system harsher and more restrictive. We also had in our group an advocate for help for a very specific population: adults who were adopted from foreign countries as children, but who never became citizens because something went wrong with their paperwork, meaning they are now technically unauthorized immigrants and could be subject to deportation. Our advocate was the wife of such a person, following up on a request she had made at a previous meeting for Sen. Feinstein to look into this issue. Sean assured us that she had, but that they had not been able to find a way to move legislation forward under this Congress. He confirmed that she will continue to try, and may include it in comprehensive reform.

We asked what we could do to help the senator fight the terrible judges that the president nominated for California seats on the 9th Circuit. Senator Chuck Grassley scheduled a so-called hearing for these nominees while the Senate is away on recess – a farce of an event attended by up to two Republican senators who asked approximately zero questions. Sean said that Sen. Feinstein is certain that the way this happened was intended as revenge for what Republicans perceive as her role in “ruining” the Supreme Court confirmation hearings for Brett Kavanaugh. As for what we can do to help, Sean said that Democrats on the Judiciary Committee are still strategizing, and that, of course, a lot depends on who wins the Senate in next week’s elections. He suggested raising awareness of the red flags in the judges’ records, writing letters to the editors of newspapers, and generally making it clear that California does not support these nominees.

We also discussed the United States’ shameful role in the war in Yemen and on the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty; we found, not surprisingly, that we are on the same page as Sen. Feinstein, who has called abandoning the treaty a “strategic mistake.” Even if the administration tries to withdraw from the formal treaty, Sen. Feinstein is committed to enforcing its terms by way of her role on the Energy and Water Appropriations Subcommittee.

And we talked about creating a fair economy and protecting our social services. A theme of that conversation was the GOP’s false promises about its economic policy, its lies about looking out for working people who are struggling to get ahead, and its double-talk about everything from Social Security to pre-existing conditions. We told Sean that sometimes Sen. Feinstein’s moderate tone and abiding belief that Republicans will be reasonable “when push comes to shove” make some of us worry that she is falling for their lies and will be fooled into making compromises in exchange for empty words.

We also asked that the senator take the administration’s recent attack on trans people as an opportunity for a renewed push to pass the Equality Act. This bill amends existing civil rights law and defines sexual orientation and gender identity protected classes under Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex in federally funded education programs or activities.

And we asked that Sen. Feinstein look at the evidence that has come out on SESTA-FOSTA, an anti-sex trafficking bill she and Sen. Harris voted for. Although the bill was intended to prevent human trafficking and forced sex work, there are serious concerns that it has actually further endangered the populations that are vulnerable to those threats.

IEB Feinstein office visit. Photo credit: Catya de Neergaard

If Sean was sorry to be seeing the last of what he has called the “most demanding Indivisible group in California,” he didn’t show it. As for us, while we may not have shed tears at parting either, we do think he has set a high for bar his replacement as a responsive and informative representative for Senator Feinstein.

Photographs by Catya de Neergaard

It’s red or blue, not pink or blue

Deadline: Right Now! – His comments about grabbing women by the “private parts” inspired an airplane passenger to grope his unknown seatmate on October 21, 2018. Now, according to a Dept. of Health and Human Services memo obtained by the New York Times,* the Current Occupant is considering creating a rule to determine “a person’s status as male or female based on immutable biological traits identifiable by or before birth,” as dictated by genitalia, original birth certificates, and genetic testing. In other words, everyone’s either male or female, registered according to what’s in their diaper, and how they’re registered is how they stay – and, no doubt, how their rights are determined. Banning trans folks from the armed services? We’re talking about banning them from legal existence. Non-binary? Nonexistent. Erasure.

What you can do: Be out about this. Which here means, whoever you are and however you identify – straight, LGBT, queer, cis, non-binary, whoever and however – talk about this. For some among us, this is a fight for existence, and it’s going to depend on visibility, acceptance into society, and normalization. So talk about this. Talk on social media and in your daily life. Talk with friends. Talk with like-minded people – this may not be on their radars, and it needs to be. Do you know people of faith? Ask them to talk to their fellow-congregants and even to preach about it. Here’s an amazing statement from a Lutheran minister; here’s a beautiful prayer from the Bay Area’s own Rabbi Reuben Zellman. Do you know scientists? Ask them to talk and write about it – science is on our side and people, we have to listen to the science.

What else you can do:

  • Use the hashtag #WontBeErased when you talk about this subject.
  • Are you on facebook? Want to add a #WontBeErased frame from the National Center for Transgender Equality to your profile photo, or a facebook cover photo? You can get them here.
  • The National Center for Transgender Equality #WontBeErased page also has a printable signs, message tips and more, if you want to hold an event.
  • Read Hell No to the Memo, published by Out Magazine, for a list of more action items

And stay tuned – if this rule is proposed, we’ll be asking you to comment on it!

Graphic copyright National Center for Transgender Equality

* Because the New York Times is behind a paywall, we usually use alternative sources. However, when, as here, the Times’ investigative journalism is the source of a story and they are the sole source for a document, we think it’s important to provide a direct link.

 

Won’t you take me to Cat Town?

By Andrea Lum and Wesley Chang

Since October 2,  Indivisible East Bay has been fortunate enough to hold phone banking events at the unique space of Cat Town, near downtown Oakland. This quirky venue is part café and part cat shelter and is definitely worth a visit if you’re ever in the area, especially (maybe only?) if you like cats.

The partnership developed from a need to find a free, quiet space (check) that was friendly to our progressive activities (check check) and might have a pawsitive effect on nervous phone bankers (meow and check). We are so grateful that Cat Town generously volunteered their space for us to use. It’s become so popular, we have had to close the registration twice in the past month!

Phone banking with Indivisible East Bay
Calmer calling amidst kitties. photo by Wesley Chang

On October 17, it was among a clowder of playful and friendly (and a tad skittish) cats that a group of volunteers gathered for their weekly phone banking. As the cats napped, climbed, and scurried about, volunteers worked on their laptops and phones, reaching out to potential swing voters in Nevada ahead of the upcoming midterm elections. The roaming cats were certainly a welcome diversion during breaks.  We may have provided a diversion to them as well.

Phone banking with Indivisible East Bay
Multi-tasking is an essential component of phone banking. photo by Wesley Chang

Many thanks to Ann Dunn and all the staff at Cat Town for their generosity in letting Indivisible East Bay use their beautiful space. If you follow Cat Town on Instagram, you might just find your next feline soul mate!

And a huge thank you to Pro Bono Photo for arranging the services of cat whisperer and photographer Wesley Chang for the fantastic photos!

It’s your turn! Please join us — sign up for as many phone banks or other Get Out the Vote events as you can from now until November 6. See our “Volunteer to Flip the G-D- Congress” list and calendar, and find out what you can do on the critical Last Weekend.