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2/13/20

NATIONAL ISSUES


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CORRUPTION OF THE DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE: Tuesday, as the NH primary was taking place, an emergency was unfolding at the Department of Justice. On Monday, the DOJ made their sentencing recommendations in the Roger Stone case. Overnight on Monday, Trump tweeted out the unfairness of the sentencing recommendation. Tuesday, the DOJ announced a revision to the recommendation. Then, the four DOJ prosecutors resigned from the case in protest of the intervention of Attorney General William Barr. Then Barr announced that that he will be controlling all aspects of cases related to Trump (like the Stone case) which Trump is pleased about: https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-trump-russia-stone/trump-hails-barr-for-taking-charge-of-stone-case-democrats-vow-probe-idUSKBN2061NT  Barr has agreed to testify before the House Judiciary Committee on March 31, but that seems much later than needed.  https://www.politico.com/news/2020/02/12/attorney-general-william-barr-to-testify-before-house-judiciary-committee-114601  Regardless of Barr’s willingness to testify, this is a disturbing and dangerous politicization of the DOJ and is not the behavior of democracies. Let’s call our one Congressional Rep and two Senators to say that they must speak out about this assault on the rule of law and that we cannot allow the DOJ to be co-opted in this way. We need to let our MoCs know that we are very concerned about Barr setting up a Giuliani information channel, taking over all Trump related cases and slashing the Roger Stone sentencing recommendations.  Capitol Switchboard is 1-202-224-3121 or we can look up their local office numbers. Let’s call the Department of Justice Comment line to leave a brief message demanding Barr's resignation 1-202-514-2000 (press 4 - voicemail box). After the beep we can say, "I am calling for Attorney General Barr's resignation due to his corruption." Let’s call the White House to demand Trump's resignation. These are volunteer operators - please thank them for their service. You need not give your name. The person who answers will say "may I please take your brief message for the president?" and you can say "I am calling for his resignation. Thank you for volunteering." 1-202-456-1111

DOJ AND PRESIDENTIAL INTERFERENCE: The four prosecutors who made sentencing recommendations against Roger Stone have withdrawn from the case, and one has resigned from the Department of Justice (DOJ) after the DOJ sent a court memo recommending a shorter sentence for Stone (https://n.pr/39qQzSk). Since then, House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler has stated that the Judiciary Committee will "get to the bottom of this," and the government watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) has submitted a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request for communications between the DOJ and U.S. Attorney's office. However, with Republicans leading the Senate, there is a greater likelihood that the issue of DOJ and presidential interference in the Stone case will be largely ignored. With enough public pressure though, they may have to take action. Let's join Senators Harris and Blumenthal in asking Senate Judiciary Chairman Lindsey Graham to call Attorney General William Barr to testify before the committee. Mailing address: 290 Russell Senate Office Building Washington, DC 20510, Phone: (202) 224-5972, Fax: (202) 224-3808

SEND POSTCARDS OF THANKS TO US ATTORNEY WHO RESIGNED IN PROTEST: Assistant US Attorney Jonathan Kravis just resigned from the Washington Bureau of the DOJ rather than carry out Barr’s slashing sentencing recommendations for Roger Stone.  https://www.vox.com/2020/2/11/21133622/roger-stone-prosecutor-aaron-zelinsky-resigns  We can send him postcards of support at this address where he is teaching a course this semester: Jonathan Kravis, Professorial Lecturer in Law, George Washington University, 2000 H Street, NW, Washington, District of Columbia 20052

POVERTY IN A BOOMING ECONOMY:  We are told that the economy is in great shape; that the stock market is thriving.  However, household debt levels made the biggest jump in 14 years.  https://www.upi.com/Top_News/US/2020/02/11/Household-debt-levels-make-biggest-annual-jump-in-14-years/7511581443571/  In addition, 40-50% of Americans not do have $400 readily available for emergencies, one in five children is living in poverty, our life expectancy is lower than Canada. https://www.recorder.com/my-turn-hynes-IncomeInequality-32233688  “When the Trump administration first came into office, it promised to remember the “forgotten man and woman.” We were told we’d have the “greatest economy ever,” that wages would skyrocket, and millions would be lifted from poverty. Instead, the administration has made the work we do as leaders in the fight against poverty even more difficult.” https://www.insidesources.com/we-cant-let-the-trump-administration-pretend-poverty-away/  Let’s contact all our MoCs and ask what they are doing to address these trends and remind them that the economy is not really “great” for everyone. 

DISABILITY RIGHTS: It's been seven years since the U.N. Special Rapporteur on Torture determined that electronic shock devices (ESDs), used by the Judge Rotenberg Center, an institution for people with disabilities, "often meet the criteria for torture," at the very least are" inhuman and degrading," and are always in violation of international law. Nearly six years ago, the FDA held a hearing in which it ultimately determined that ESDs should be banned. In the fall of 2018, then-FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb announced that ESDs would finally be banned in the upcoming year. These decisions are snapshots of a decades-long story in the fight against the Judge Rotenberg Center's tortuous practices. Most recently, Senator Chris Murphy is again leading a group of senators, asking FDA Commissioner Dr. Stephen M. Hahn to finalize the rule banning the use of ESDs on people with disabilities. Let's read the letter from the senators, then join them in asking Dr. Hahn to finalize the rule: Dr. Stephen M. Hahn, Commissioner of Food and Drugs, Food and Drug Administration, 10903 New Hampshire Ave, Silver Spring, MD 20993

TRUMP’S BUDGET:  Yes, it’s only a budget proposal at this point, but it proposes cuts of $1 trillion to Medicaid and the Affordable Care Act, $180 billion to food and nutrition assistance, $1.7 billion to school meals for low-income children, $170 billion to student loan programs, $75 billion to Social Security disability programs, and cuts as well to the EPA and housing for low-income families: https://www.govinfo.gov/content/pkg/BUDGET-2021-BUD/pdf/BUDGET-2021-BUD.pdf and https://americansfortaxfairness.org/issue/trumps-groundhog-day-budget-tax-cuts-rich-paid-slashing-services-rest-us/  We must make sure our MoCs know that we know--and won’t tolerate this shredding of the social safety net.

STONEMAN DOUGLAS ANNIVERSARY:  Friday, February 14th marks the second anniversary of the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. To honor the lives lost and support the national March For Our Lives movement, join or support a chapter near you: https://marchforourlives.com/chapters/. If there is not a chapter near you, you can sign up to start one at https://marchforourlives.com/start-a-chapter/On Friday, please call your Senators and tell them you want universal background checks. S.42, the Background Check Expansion Act, is in the Senate; it has 41 cosponsors (all of them Democrats and Independent). Check to see if your Senators are supporting the bill here:   https://www.congress.gov/bill/116th-congress/senate-bill/42/cosponsors Background checks are a no-brainer. 97% of Americans want background checks, for God’s sake!  (h/t Small Deeds Done)

HISTORY ACCORDING TO TRUMP:  Last month, David S. Ferriero, the chief archivist of the US, announced that ICE could start destroying records from Trump’s first year, including detainees’ complaints about civil rights violations and shoddy medical care; the Department of the Interior and the National Archives have decided to delete files on endangered species, offshore drilling inspections, and drinking water safety; the State Department will start using algorithms to separate the “historic” from the “temporary” and does not plan to turn these records over to the National Archives — a clear violation of the Federal Records Act: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/02/04/opinion/archives-document-destruction.html  Ferriero’s response to historian Matthew Connelly, who wrote about this: 
https://www.nytimes.com/2020/02/07/opinion/letters/national-archives.html 
And Connely’s retort: https://www.wnycstudios.org/podcasts/takeaway  Before we blame Ferriero, however, let’s demand that our MoCs provide resources to  the wildly underfunded, understaffed National Archives, whose budget has been cut every year for the past three.

ELECTION/VOTING

PRIMARIES/CAUCUS CALENDAR:  https://ballotpedia.org/Elections_calendar

ATTENTION DEMS ABROAD: "Starting February 18th, we'll be able to download your Primary ballot from the Democrats Abroad website, vote it, and email or post it back in. We can also wait until our Primary week - March 3rd through 10th - and vote in-person at a voting centre in our country. A reminder: Democrats abroad may only vote in one presidential primary. Those who'd like to vote in the Global primary cannot vote in their state's presidential primary. (We may vote down the rest of our state's ballot - for US Senator, Congressperson, governor, etc)." All the info we need to vote in the Global Presidential Primary is right here

HELP WISCONSIN GET OUT THE VOTE. Indivisible Chicago Alliance and the same team that organized 200,000 handwritten postcards to voters in IL-6 in 2018 have partnered up to organize a project to send 500,000 handwritten postcards to WI voters ahead of the April 7th primary.  The organization will send us the postcards, instructions and addresses; we just need to provide the stamps. We'll be mailing the postcards between March 20-26, which gives us lots of time to write them. We can order postcards in increments of 100. Let's request postcards today for writing at home or for hosting a postcarding party at postcards2WI.com.

NEVADA CAUCUS: FEB.22. In Nevada, early voting for the Democratic presidential primary runs from Feb. 15 - 18 prior to the Saturday, Feb. 22 caucus. Nevada will NOT be using the election app that caused so much trouble in Iowa. (Source: LATimes) We can find our precincts and more information at NVDems.com.

VOTE BY MAIL, FLORIDA! Registered Democrats in Florida who are signed up for vote by mail have already begun receiving their presidential primary ballots. The primary is scheduled for MARCH 17. If we are FL voters, we can find more information at the Florida Division of Elections.

RESIST VOTER SUPPRESSION. Three weeks ago, Florida's Supreme Court ruled that convicted felons must pay “all terms of sentence” before they can vote. This includes not only terms of a person’s imprisonment and supervision, but also fines and other obligations imposed as part of a punishment. (Source: The Hill.) Floridians overwhelming passed Amendment 4 which would allow 1.4 million former convicts to vote. Since then, the Republican governor and legislature have worked hard to block this from happening. (Source: Miami Herald) The Florida Rights Restoration Coalition is helping former felons regain their right to vote. We can help with a tax-deductible donation to cover fines and fees at wegotthevote.org.

APPLY FOR SWING LEFT’S SUPER STATE YOUTH COUNCIL: In an effort to turn out the youth vote in historic numbers, Swing Left has created a Super State Youth Council (SSYC) for college students interested in organizing to get young people to the polls in 12 “super” states (AZ, CO, FL, GA, IA, ME, MI, NC, OH, PA, TX, WI) to win federal and state elections. We can learn more here, https://swingleft.org/p/youth-council , and apply here: https://swing-left.breezy.hr/p/a388432cee6f-college-network-lead-member-of-the-super-state-youth-council

STATE/LOCAL

ALL: PRISON GERRYMANDERING: While many of us are familiar with gerrymandering, something that often goes under the radar is the issue of prison gerrymandering, in which the census counts prisoners where they are incarcerated, rather than at their home address. This artificially inflates the population, giving more voting power and representation to those districts, often white and rural, while taking it away from their home district (http://www.naacpldf.org/case/prison-based-gerrymandering). Some states are taking action; New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy recently signed a bill to end prison gerrymandering, and in Michigan, a bill was just introduced in the Senate to do the same. Let's take action to fix the problem at the state level; the Prison Gerrymandering Project has information on where our state currently stands, along with legislation that has been proposed, and model legislation we can send to our legislators as we urge them to make sure that prisoners are counted correctly, in their home district: 

RALLIES/GATHERINGS/TRAININGS

JOIN THE #AAPA TWITTER TOWN HALL TODAY AT 2 PM EST: Caucus season has begun, and 40% of the #AAPI, Asian American Pacific Islander, vote is still in play. It’s time for a Town Hall focusing on AAPI concerns and it’s happening today or Twitter! Candidates Biden, Bloomberg, Buttigieg, Klobuchar, Sanders, Steyer and Warren Niall all be participating, moderated by @NBCAsianAmerica. We can join the National Council of Asian Pacific Americans and the Asian American Journalists Association for the #AAPI 2020 Twitter Town Hall TODAY at 2pm Eastern Time. When we click this link, we can find more data about AAPI concerns and to preview the questions to be asked.

ATTEND LOVE NOT HATE EVENTS ON THE BORDER: FEBRUARY 14-17. Four days’ worth of activities are being planned for the weekend of February 14-17 as part of the witnessing actions on the border of Brownsville Matamoros. These include attending tent courts, witnessing deportations at the Brownsville Airport, vigiling at the courthouse, and participating in several protest rallies. Let’s see if we can attend and/or let our friends and neighbors know. The schedule is here. More information is available on the Witness at the Border Facebook Page. 

NATIONAL PILGRIMAGE TO CLOSE THE CAMPS—Tsuru for Solidarity, a non-violent, direct action project of Japanese American social justice advocates, is leading the planning of a gathering of Japanese Americans from across the country in Washington, DC, June 5-7, 2020. The purpose of the gathering is to express solidarity with immigrant and refugee communities under attack in the US. Attendees will bring 125,000 paper cranes (tsuru) to represent the Japanese Americans who were imprisoned in concentration camps by the US government during World War II. We can support the pilgrimage by holding “Tsuru Fold-ins” to bring to D.C. or to mail them to Tsuru for Solidarity by May 1, 2020To organize a fold-in, receive updates, register to attend and learn of other ways to participate, let’s visit: https://tsuruforsolidarity.org/2019/11/13/125000-paper-cranes-to-dc-in-june-2020-for-tsuru-for-solidaritys-national-pilgrimage-to-close-the-camps/

READING/WATCHING

Why all white people are racist, but can't handle being called racist: the theory of white fragility - https://stateofopportunity.michiganradio.org/post/why-all-white-people-are-racist-cant-handle-being-called-racist-theory-white-fragility

Trump's greatest vulnerability is the economy – just ask poor Americans - https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2020/feb/11/trump-economy-poor-americans-vulnerability


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We can stay up to date on Congress by checking out their schedules. a) The House publishes a weekly schedule at The Weekly Leader (published and dated Friday) as well as daily schedules at The Daily Leader. b) The Senate updates their schedule daily at the Senate Floor Schedule




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