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How Your Voices Are Making a Difference: Let us be serious and worthy of our people:

6/18 “Let us be serious and worthy of our people”

After the G7 summit in which Donald acted like the big man-baby he is, threw a tantrum, and then whined on Twitter because Justin Trudeau stood up to him, French president Emmanuel Macron finally abandoned all pretense of trying to humor the commander of cheese, stating publicly that “international cooperation cannot depend on fits of anger or little words. Let us be serious and worthy of our people.” Thank god there are adults in the room—too bad they all seem to be in other countries.

One of the few FOX News anchors who actually reports the news, Shep Smith, gave a scathingly honest breakdown of Donald’s concessions to the brutal North Korean dictator the mentally deranged dotard says he “trusts” and who is “very talented”: Donald gave up plenty to a murderous authoritarian and got nothing in return. “The United States made concessions in exchange for no hard promises….Kim Jong Un got it all…for actually doing nothing.”

Russia

Robert Mueller filed for 150 blank subpoenas in Paul Manafort’s VA case—meaning 75 potential witnesses.

Attorney Michael Cohen, facing serious charges by the investigation and abandoned by his former client Don John, has indicated to friends and family that he will cooperate with Mueller’s investigation. Sing it loud and proud, Robert. Perhaps influencing his sudden spirit of cooperation, investigators have so far pieced together 16 documents from Cohen’s shredder, seized by Mueller’s team last month, and obtained thousands of encrypted text messages.

Attorney (and husband of Kellyanne) George Conway wrote a long article in a prominent law publication refuting Donald’s assertions that the appointment of Robert Mueller was unconstitutional, and heartily defending Mueller’s investigation: “Additionally, Conway wrote, the scope of Mueller’s investigation is far narrower compared to the wide-ranging duties of U.S. attorneys. And although Calabresi argued that Manafort’s indictment is far beyond that scope, Conway said an appeals court already has rejected that argument. The U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia ruled last month that Mueller’s prosecution of Manafort on charges of money laundering, tax and bank fraud, and conspiracy was ‘an appropriate exercise of the Special Counsel’s authority’— and said that Mueller ‘would have been remiss’ if he ignored ‘such an obvious link’ between the Trump campaign and Russia. ‘So not only does Mueller have a boss, and not only is the boss keeping tabs on Mueller, but, according to this judicial decision, Mueller is also faithfully following his boss’s orders,’ Conway wrote. ’That disposes of Calabresi’s Appointment Clause contentions.’”

Republicans Against the Law

Paul Manafort is in jail for witness tampering. No more house arrest. No bail. BOOM. (That’s the sound of the hammer coming down, Donald and minions.)

New York has filed suit against Donald, Don Jr., Eric, and Ivanka for illegal misuse of his (allegedly) nonprofit charity organization, including using its funds to pay off his businesses’ creditors, decorate one of his golf clubs and stage a multimillion-dollar giveaway at his 2016 campaign events. The suit might involve the IRS, whose investigation could lead to federal criminal charges against Donny for tax fraud.

For the third time, Donald has tried—and failed—to have Summer Zervos’s defamation case against him dismissed. The suit will now move forward with discovery—which may require Donald to testify under oath about his treatment of women.

Former FBI Deputy Director Christopher McCabe—whom Don John fired hours before McCabe would have received his full earned retirement benefits—is suing the FBI, the Justice Department and its inspector general for refusing to turn over documents related to McCabe’s termination.

Meanwhile Michael Cohen made a bid to muzzle Stephanie Clifford’s (Stormy Daniels) lawyer, Michael Avenatti, but a federal judge refused to grant a gag order.

Multiple Texas organizations supporting and lobbying for abortion rights filed suit against the state for laws that restrict access to abortion and disadvantage low-income people, people of color, and other marginalized communities, stating that the laws allow providers to distribute inaccurate information, shame women seeking abortions, and create bureaucratic barriers to the procedure.

Republicans Reconsidering

In direct defiance of Don John’s deal with Chinese telecom company ZTE after the company broke American sanctions on countries like North Korea and Iran, the Senate blocked Donny’s agreement, which would have kept the company in the U.S. market. Republican senator Tom Cotton says the move will likely put the telecom giant, which is said to be a mechanism for espionage by, in part, selling phones in the U.S. that can be tracked and enabled to steal intellectual property, out of business.

Republican senator Joni Ernst, a key member of the Senate Armed Services committee, openly questioned Donald’s concession to brutal dictator Kim Jong Un to suspend joint military exercises with South Korea.

Republican senator Bob Corker is uncorked now that he’s announced he won’t seek reelection. On the heels of Mitch McConnell blocking his Corker’s proposed legislation that would have blocked Donny’s ability to levy tariffs, Corker called the GOP under the very stable genius “cultish” and “fearful.”

“Draining the Swamp”

Are you surprised that we will lead this section, yet again, with Scott Pruitt’s shenanigans? This time he was revealed to havesolicited a top aide as well as wealthy donors to secure a job for his wife. As a reminder it seems Pruitt desperately needs, federal ethics rules prohibit public officials from using their posts for private gain or receiving free services or other gifts from their subordinates.

Of course Pruitt’s office is handling all this with Donald’s White House’s usual grace, calling one reporter from the Atlantic “a piece of trash” for asking questions, and using physical aggression against others.

Donald’s White House continues to hemorrhage staffers—latest departures, both announced and rumored, include Capitol Hill liaison Marc Short, deputy press secretary Raj Shah, and the liar-in-chief’s right-hand liar, Sarah Huckabee Sanders. Having trouble keeping up with staff attrition? Here’s a comprehensive list from WTF Just Happened Today.

The 24-year-old campaign intern and former “drug czar” in Donald’s administration (head of the Office of National Drug Control Policy) was relieved of duty at the drug policy office as a result of Washington Post’s article exposing his six quick promotions despite a total lack of experience, and then subsequently fired. Now he’s speaking out.

Social and Civil Rights Advances

In a unanimous vote, the Austin City Council voted to pass a Freedom City policy, a measure that helps avoid racial profiling in arrests, requires full vetting and reporting on arrests requested of APD by ICE, and ensures that officers who ask detainees about their immigration status also inform them of their right not to answer, and fill out a report explaining the encounter.

Students who survived the school shooting in Parkland at Marjory Stoneman Douglas high have organized a bus tour called Road to Change, focused on getting young people to vote and keeping them politically engaged.

Target and Walmart are proudly flying rainbow flags all over their stores and online.

This week there’s another new section I’m simply calling:

WTAF

propaganda video about North Korea that paints Kim Jong Un as the beloved leader of a grateful people, rather than the brutal dictator he is who imprisons, tortures, and kills his own people, was actually produced and released BY THE WHITE HOUSE OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA.

A cohost on the commander of cheese’s favorite show, Fox and Friends, Freudianly referred to Donald as a dictator on air, and then frantically tried to brush it under the rug as a slip of the tongue (instead of a slip of the truth). Neither Anthony “not trying to suck my own c*&k” Scaramucci, who was being interviewed by cohost Abby Huntsman when she let the subconscious truth bomb fly, nor, presumably, the wannabe dictator in the White House seemed to take offense nor even notice the comment.

There are actually staffers in the White House who painstakingly tape together official documents that Donald methodically shreds in his little man-baby tantrums, because they are legally required to be preserved under the Presidential Records Act. Let’s be clear—this happens because staffers felt it was easier to laboriously tape together documents sometimes shredded into confetti rather than demand the president of the United States obey the law, let alone act like an adult.

Your Feel-good Stories of the Week

ICE conducted a workplace raid at a small town in Tennessee, a state where Donald won 61 percent of the vote, and detained 97 immigrants—but the town spoke out and fought back.

Less than two weeks after a pilot whale died off Thailand with 80 plastic bags in its stomach, three major corporations—SeaWorld, IKEA, and Royal Caribbean Cruises—are banning plastic straws and bags in an effort to curb rampant plastics pollution in oceans. They join other companies, as well as cities like Seattle, which will ban plastic straws and utensils in restaurants as of July 1, and California, which is working to ban plastic bags; and all of the UK: Teresa May has announced a countrywide ban on plastic straws, stirrers and plastic-stemmed cotton swabs.

A Day on the Hill

(Read about day 1 of my trip to D.C.)

Bright and early last Thursday morning I headed to the U.S. Capitol Visitors Center for the weekly coffee with Sen. John Cornyn, which I RSVP-ed for in advance (and I don’t know if they spend any time researching attendees, but I suspect they do).

Texas flag sign that say says Texas Thursday Coffee Senator John Cornyn
Even Texas signs are bigger

It was gorgeous DC day, and this sort of picture-perfect postcard view of the Capitol is enough to give even the most jaded Texas gal a little hope.

U.S. Capitol dome
Our Capitol is beautiful, majestic, and inspiring.

I joined about 50 other fellow Texans at the coffee, which was held in a large meeting room in the visitors center. I had a few minimum expectations about this event, and I had prepared for any opportunity to speak to or ask questions of the senior senator from Texas. I was ready to talk to him about the family separation policy, gun safety reform, and health care. I was also aware that I was in a room full of people who likely had diverse views on all these issues.

I got my coffee and filled out my photo information form. And then waited for something to happen.

At about 9:50 a staffer (not intern–though they were mostly young white male interns) came in and made a beeline to an older gentleman wearing a Make America Great Again hat. She spent a fair bit of time talking to him and his (I assume) wife.

A few other staffers came in and each spoke with a few folks. In the meantime, they started to line us up to take our photos with the senator. Finally Sen. Cornyn came in and went straight to the flags for photos. We were hustled through very quickly, maybe 15 seconds each, and since no one else was chatting him up I didn’t either. That was a crucial mistake.

More than 50 constituents came to the coffee, and our senator didn’t take any time to speak with us, except for banalities while shaking hands and taking a picture. He whizzed in, took photos for 10 minutes, and then disappeared. There was no welcome from him or from his staff. There was no acknowledgement that most people in the room had traveled from Texas to be there. And there was absolutely no opportunity to engage with our senator about any of the critical policy issues.

I have been to D.C. for enough meetings with members of Congress over the years to have had a certain set of expectations about what happens when 50 constituents are in the room. I learned my lesson and I’m passing it on to you: go to the coffee, get the photo, but also make the appointment and go to the office.

As interns started coming into the room to give people information about their tours, I took my last opportunity to connect with staff. I hand-delivered 300 postcards constituents had signed over the last couple of months, asking Sen. Cornyn to pass basic gun safety reforms that the vast majority of Texans and Americans support. If you wrote a postcard to Sen. Cornyn at the March for Our Lives or the Town Hall for Our Lives, they were delivered, and I hope you get a response. Please share it if you do!

Approximately 300 postcards from Sen. John Cornyn's constituents, asking for strong gun safety measures to protect our children.
Approximately 300 postcards from Sen. John Cornyn’s constituents, asking for strong gun safety measures to protect our children.

My next meeting on the hill couldn’t have been more different. I had reached out to Rep. Lloyd Doggett’s D.C. office the week before my trip and asked if I could stop by and meet some of the staffers so I could put names to faces. I expected to spend about 15-30 minutes at the office at most, but was treated to the opportunity to spend some time with each member of the congressman’s policy team. All my preparation paid off!

In the time I spent with the congressman’s staff, we discussed family separation and what’s happening here in Austin, as well as upcoming Congressional trips to the border; gun violence prevention actions and the hearing on red flag laws and safe gun storage at the Texas House Criminal Jurisprudence committee on June 25; work being done to address out-of-control drug prices; the immigration bills that will hit the House floor this week (they are both bad, so call your reps!); the new poll on support for Medicaid expansion in Texas. We probably touched on a few other things I’ve forgotten.

Rep. Lloyd Doggett and Lisa Goodgame
Thank you for taking a few minutes to chat!

As I was about to leave, Rep. Doggett appeared, and he generously gave me a few minutes. We talked about several of the items on the list above, but most specifically about the actions Democratic members of Congress are taking to address family separation. Something is happening out there, and people are deeply moved by the horror we’re seeing play out at the border. I’m thankful for the members who are putting this issue front and center, and I hope it will drive some change in Congress. But when we see Texas members of Congress hailing the policy as a positive development while also lying that it’s happening because of a law passed by Democrats it’s hard to imagine any sort of solution. Also, do they not hear themselves contradicting themselves in that lie?

With just about an hour left in my schedule, I quickly headed to the offices of Rep. Flores, Rep. Smith, and Rep. McCaul to drop off more postcards asking for stronger gun safety measures, as well as some letters from voters. I have a plan to visit Sen. Cruz’s office next time I’m in D.C.

I caught a member of Rep. McCaul’s staff in the middle of lunch, but I made him listen to me for several minutes as I shared my concerns on the policy of family separation, the criminalization of asylum-seekers, and the need to change this inhumane response to people fleeing violence. He listened, was reasonably friendly, and promised to put my concerns in the database. I’ll let you know if I get a response.

Here’s my key takeaway from this trip: really bad shit is happening in our government every single day and the executive branch agencies are being gutted and destroyed by political appointees. We can campaign our butts off trying to get new people elected in November, but right now most of our representatives are co-signing everything the president wants. Our representatives have traded away a lot of their decency for tax cuts. Each day that we don’t call or take action and engage the people who represent us right now, we are tacitly telling them that we’re OK with what they’re doing and how they are representing us.

We. Are. Not. Don’t let them forget it.

Indivisible Goes to Washington

Last week I had the opportunity to go to Washington with about 40 other Indivisible leaders from across the country. It was a wonderful chance to meet some of the folks I’ve gotten to know virtually over the last year-and-a-half, while also connecting with some of the Indivisible national staff.

Indivisible leaders from California to Maine and points in between gathered in D.C.
Indivisible leaders from California to Maine and points in between gathered in D.C. Photo by Leni Manaa-Hoppenworth/Indivisible Illinois

We had a nice meetup followed by dinner, as we prepared to attend the We the People Summit the next day along with about 1,000 people from the labor movement, as well as allies such as Planned Parenthood, Sierra Club, United We Dream, and many more. We also ran into some of our Austin friends from Workers Defense Project!

Progressive activists joined Communications Workers of America at the We The People 2018 Summit.
Progressive activists joined Communications Workers of America at the We The People 2018 Summit. Photo by Leni Manaa-Hoppenworth/Indivisible Illinois

The summit was actually a forum with a number of Democratic members of Congress (some of whom are likely 2020 candidates). Here’s a video recap from MSN, along with other analysts discussing the 2020 field. We heard from:

Sen. Cory Booker
Sen. Elizabeth Warren
Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand
Sen. Kamala Harris
Sen. Bernie Sanders
Rep. Pramila Jayapal
Rep. Luis Gutierrez

Each member gave a brief speech, and then took 2-4 questions, depending on available time. Vox has a pretty good recap of each speaker. The topics they covered were broad, but had common themes: an economy that isn’t working for many Americans, worsened by the massive tax scam; immigration policies and zero-tolerance crackdowns that are tearing families apart; racial bias in the criminal justice system and mass incarceration; uncontrolled drug prices; corruption as the basic mode of operation of the White House.

Senator Kamala Harris of California addresses the crowd at the We the People Summit.
Senator Kamala Harris of California addresses the crowd at the We the People Summit. Photo by Leni Manaa-Hoppenworth/Indivisible Illinois

Indivisible member Ricky Silver from New York asked Sen. Gillibrand whether she’d support a tax on every Wall Street transaction. The senator has been challenged on her cozy relationship with Wall Street, and apparently she was not expected to answer the question directly. To everyone’s happy surprise, she not only directly answered the question, but for the first time said on the record that she’d support the transactions tax as a means of reigning in income inequality.

After the forum concluded, we went a short distance to D.C.’s Freedom Plaza where Rep. Jayapal and Rep. John Lewis, among others, and about 200 activists gathered for a rally and march to the D.C. office of Customs and Border Protection. Several members of Congress as well as about a dozen activists then started a sit-on on the steps of the office and prepared to be arrested. Unfortunately I had to leave early, but reports from the field told me no one was arrested. (Facebook video from Workers Defense Project)

L: Members of Congress lead the Families Belong Together rally and march to Customs and Border Patrol; M: Marchers headed to Customs and Border Patrol office in D.C.; R: Families belong together rally outside Customs and Border Patrol office in D.C.
L: Members of Congress lead the Families Belong Together rally and march to Customs and Border Patrol; M: Marchers headed to Customs and Border Patrol office in D.C.; R: Families belong together rally outside Customs and Border Patrol office in D.C. Photo credit Lisa Goodgame/Indivisible Austin

I met up with a friend for dinner. We knew each other when I worked as a foreign service officer, and this person continues to work for the State Department. My friend flagged a story in Foreign Policy about the deconstruction of the administrative state happening within the State Department, illustrated by a newish appointee who has been compiling an “enemies list” and working to destroy the U.S. relationship with international organizations like the United Nations and WHO, among others. As bad as you think it might be, it’s worse. The brain drain and diplomatic talent leaving the State Department (voluntarily or being forced out) is something we won’t recover from for a long time.

The food was good, the company enjoyable, but I left with a troubled feeling of unease.

How your voices are making a difference: “Commander of Cheese”

6/11 “Commander of Cheese”

Let’s jump right in with…

Republicans Against the Law

A federal judge ruled that a lawsuit filed by the ACLU against the White House for its policy separating children from parents at the border will be allowed to proceed. “The government conduct at issue shocks the conscience and violates Plaintiffs’ constitutional right to family integrity,” Judge Dana M. Sabraw wrote.

federal judge ruled against Donald in a sanctuary city case in Philadelphia, ruling that the administration could not withhold federal funding from the city over its sanctuary policies and stating that the attempt “violates statutory and constitutional law.”

judge ruled that Donald can be deposed in the lawsuit brought against him by Summer Zervos for defamation, after her accusations against him of sexual misconduct.

A judge has ordered Scott Pruitt’s EPA to provide evidence for his assertion that humans are not the main cause of climate change, after Pruitt published the antiscientific dictum and resisted providing any science to back up the claim.

A federal judge rejected efforts by Trump, the Trump Organization and Michael Cohen to file their objections to findings from the seized documents and records of Donny’s personal attorney’s business dealings entirely under seal, and has instructed that any objections be filed publicly.

Stormy Daniels has filed another lawsuit, this one against Donald’s presently-marinating-in-hot-water personal attorney Michael Cohen as well as her own former attorney, for allegedly colluding together and with Donald to intimidate her and try to silence her story of her relationship with Donald shortly after Melania gave birth to Barron.

Colin Kaepernick’s lawyers plan to subpoena Donald and Mike Pence to compel their testimony about the administration’s direct political involvement with and pressuring of the NFL during Kaepernick’s free agency and the league’s handling of player protests.

The Pentagon opened an investigation into Ronny Jackson, Donald’s former physician who once said Don John could live to 200 if he ate his vegetables. (No, really.)

In light of all the recent conservatives finally speaking out against Donny, let’s try a new section this week we’ll call…

Republicans Reconsidering

Paul Ryan, on his way out of politics, seems to have finally located some vestigial spine and joined other lawmakers—including Republicans—in stating that he’s seen no evidence indicating that the FBI placed a “spy”into Donny’s campaign.

Retired army lieutenant colonel Ralph Peters, who announced in March that he would no longer appear on FOX as a military expert in March because he was disgusted with the network’s extreme bias and slant, gave his first interview since his departure, saying on CNN that FOX had become “a destructive propaganda machine” and is doing “a great, grave disservice to our country.” “It’s bewildering to me,” he said. “I mean, I wanted to just cry out and say: ‘How can you do this? How can you lie to our country?’” Another former FOX news anchor now at CNN joined in, corroborating FOX’s “blurring of the lines between propaganda and journalism.”

The political network run by the Koch brothers is launching a multimillion-dollar, multiyear campaign to oppose his new tariffs. (Unrelated, probably, David Koch stepped down from the company for health reasons.)

Donald asked Republican senator Bob Corker not to file a bill that would check Donny’s authority in trade, such as his recent imposition of tariffs. Corker did it anyway.

Kellyanne Conway’s husband has taken to Twitter again with more public smackdowns on his wife’s boss, Donald—this time refuting Don John’s tweets that the Mueller investigation is unconstitutional.

Ted Cruz was struck dumb for 18 interminable seconds in an interview when asked whether Donald had the right to pardon himself, as the colluder-in-chief asserted he did.  Other members of the GOP weighed in more readily, many saying that Donald would likely be impeached if he were to pardon himself for crimes. Which brings us right to…

Russia

Robert Mueller has accused Paul Manafort of witness tampering. In case you’re keeping a tally in the “witch hunt” so far that’s 20 witches indicted, 75 charges filed so far against witches, and at least 5 witches pleading guilty.

As a result a federal judge has scheduled a hearing to revoke Manafort’s bail. Also as a result, Mueller has requested the personal cell phones of witnesses in the case to inspect their encrypted messaging programs, which Manafort used in his efforts to influence the witnesses.

Meanwhile, Mueller filed new charges against both Manafort and an associate of Manafort’s, Konstantin Kilimnik, for obstructing justice and conspiracy to obstruct justice in connection with what investigators are calling a secret lobbying scheme on behalf of Ukraine.

Despite nearly a year’s worth of denials from Donald’s aides that he was behind a misleading statement released in Donny Jr.’s name about the Trump Tower meeting little Junior held with a Kremlin-connected lawyer, a confidential memo to the special counsel revealed that the liar-in-chief did, in fact, dictate the statement.

“Draining the Swamp”

The Scott Pruitt abuse-of-office saga continues with revelations that he used taxpayer-funded staff to help him search for housing, buy a used Trump mattress, and help his wife look into opening a Chick-Fil-A franchise. Two days later it was revealed that he also used members of taxpayer-funded $3.5 million/year security detail to pick up his dry cleaning and take him to buy moisturizing lotionFederal ethics laws bar public officials from using their position or staff for private gain. One of his top aides—who received a hefty salary increase despite the White House refusing Pruitt’s request for raises—has resigned, allegedly telling other staffers she is tired of being “thrown under the bus” by Pruitt. Democrats have formally asked the Justice Department to investigate Pruitt for criminal conduct.

Remember White House aide Kelly Sadler, who made an appalling comment about John McCain, stating that his opposition to CIA director Gina Haspel’s nomination didn’t matter because the war-hero POW senator was dying? She’s out.

Donald is reportedly tabling the attempt to appoint a number three official in the DoJ—the person who would assume control of the Russia investigation should Donald fire Robert Mueller—because no one apparently wants the position.

Social and Civil Rights Advances

Voters recalled Judge Aaron Perksy from the bench Wednesday, the judge who sentenced convicted rapist Brock Turner to a lenient six months in jail—the first judge removed from his position in California in 86 years.

Miss America is eliminating the swimsuit competition (because it’s 2018, FFS).

Your Feel-good Stories of the Week

Donald uninvited the Philadelphia Eagles from the White House after only “a tiny handful” of the players agreed to meet with him. FOX News, reporting the story in pure propaganda style, ran a picture showing players kneeling—which was later exposed by Eagles team members as actually being a photo of several of them in a circle praying. FOX later apologized for the misleading photo. Meanwhile at the White House, in Don John’s patched-together “Celebration of America” he held without the Super Bowl champions (which drew backlash from the world of pro sports), one attendee took a knee.

After NBA finalists the Warriors and the Cavaliers both stated that they did not want to be invited to the White House, Donald scrambled to announce he was not inviting them to the White House.

Rudy Giuliani’s latest mouth eruptions have been publicly smacked down, this time from the unlikeliest of sources: Melania Trump’s office. Melania’s spokesperson refuted Giuliani’s assertion that the scarce first lady told Donald’s bloviating newest lawyer that she believed her husband regarding the Stormy Daniels (Stephanie Clifford) affair: “I don’t believe Mrs. Trump has ever discussed her thoughts on anything with Mr. Giuliani,” her spokeswoman told the New York Times.

Finally, if you haven’t yet discovered Randy Rainbow’s incisive, hilarious musical parodies of the world of Don John, please allow me to introduce you with this genius video from a statement that actually, magically happened, when Kellyanne Conway referred to Donny as the commander of cheese.

How Your Voices Are Making a Difference: “‘Make America Great Again’ shouldn’t mean ‘Make America 1929 Again'”

6/4 “‘Make America Great Again’ shouldn’t mean ‘Make America 1929 Again.’”

The steel industry and steel workers union, the auto industry, U.S. allies, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and even Republicans decried the trade war Donald started with the EU, Mexico, and Canada, the effects of which will likely hit red states the hardest. As Republican senator Ben Sasse of Nebraska said, “‘Make America Great Again’ shouldn’t mean ‘Make America 1929 Again.’”

Even Mitch McConnell spoke out against Donald’s actions—which I think is the seventh sign. But seriously, pay attention to how many headlines very recently show members of the GOP speaking out against Donald—this could be the beginning of a turning tide (finally).

And John Brennan, former head of the CIA under both Bushes, Clinton, and Obama, says he will continue speaking out against the current president “until integrity, decency, wisdom—and maybe even some humility—return to the White House.”

Russia

Donald continues his attacks against Mueller and the FBI investigation into Russia’s interference in our 2016 election with the intent to help Donald get elected—but without the concerted GOP abetting he’s been enjoying previously. On FOX News, when one of his pet commentators, Andrew Napolitano, stated that Don John’s claims that the FBI embedded a spy in his campaign “appear to be baseless.”“There is no evidence for that whatsoever,” Napolitano said. The fact that the FBI source spoke with “people on the periphery of the campaign,” he said, “is standard operating procedure in intelligence gathering and in criminal investigations.”

Little by little, the GOP seems to finally have found some modicum of spine to begin to stand up to Donald’s abuses of office. Rep. Trey Gowdy, a frequent Trump toady and member of the House Intelligence Committee who attended a classified Justice Department briefing last week on the FBI’s use of the confidential source, defended the investigation and its use of an informant: “I am even more convinced that the FBI did exactly what my fellow citizens would want them to do.” He later rebuked Donny for repeatedly using the word “spy.” And Shepard Smith, one of the few consistent voices of fact and reason at FOX, dismissed Donald’s attacks and accusations that Mueller will be “meddling” in the midterms as “conspiracy theories” and “unfounded, not based in fact or reason, with no evidence to support them.”

Even Donald’s own lawyer, the mouth-hemorrhaging Rudy Giuliani, admitted that Donny’s attacks were a PR campaign meant only “for public opinion” and to try to fend off impeachment.

Meanwhile, better go pop your popcorn: Mueller’s investigation is just about to receive more than a million files from Donny’s attorney Michael Cohen’s phones.

“Draining the Swamp”

Eric Greitans, the Missouri governor under ethics investigation for sexual misconduct and campaign finance violations who tried to “witch-hunt” out the allegations, Trump-style, resigned Tuesday.

Two more GOP lawmakers have announced they will not seek reelection—bringing the total so far since Donny’s tenure to more than 40, if you’re wondering. Rep. Thomas Garrett of VA says he is an alcoholic and is quitting for personal reasons, and Rep Ryan Costello of PA says he’s leaving because “all I do is answer questions about Donald Trump.”

Scott Pruitt spent more than three thousand taxpayer dollars on 12 custom pens and some stationery.

Republicans Against the Law

Donald’s been busy rolling back protections for federal employees, but they’re fighting back: The largest federal employee union is suing Donald’s administration over his latest executive order limiting the time employees can spend on union activity. The suit says the order violates employees’ constitutional right to freedom of association (First Amendment).

Two Texas Hispanic groups are suing Donald’s administration to block the citizenship question being proposed for the 2020 census.

An army sergeant is suing the Defense Department over “outdated” rules about HIV that stifle the careers of military personnel with the disease.

Gun Reform

large majority of both gun owners and non gun owners (4 out of 5) favor stronger regulations on gun purchases and ownership, according to a new survey by the Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Policy and Research.

Horrified parents and activists protested a video game manufacturer over the planned release of a first-person shooter game that featured a shooter with an AK-47 at a school. The company scrapped the game and ended their relationship with the developer.

Health Care

The Republican-led Virginia legislature voted to expand Medicaid in that state under the Affordable Care Act, expanding health-care coverage to around 400,000 low-income residents.

Instant Karma

This is a new section heading I hope to be needing more often.

After Roseanne Barr’s latest offensive comment—this one an appalling racist remark about a former Obama senior adviser, following aTuesday-morning rant of conspiracy theories and fact-free attacks on others, including Chelsea Clinton—ABC almost immediately canceled the show Roseanne despite its success in viewership and having previously decided to renew it for a second season. ABC Entertainment’s president said “Roseanne’s Twitter statement is abhorrent, repugnant and inconsistent with our values, and we have decided to cancel her show.” The decision came fast on the heels of public furor against the show’s star for her offensive remarks, and after writer/producer/actor Wanda Sykes, one of the show’s producers, summarily quit with the tweet, “I will not be returning to @RoseanneonABC.” Roseanne later blamed Sykes, her fellow cast members, and Ambien for her downfall; Ambien released an official statement that racism was not a known side effect of the drug. Barr’s own longtime producing partner publicly supported ABC’s actions and stated that he hopes Roseanne “seeks the help she so clearly needs.”

A Florida police officer posted a Facebook comment that implied he hoped Parkland survivor David Hogg and other activists would be run over by a car in the parking lot of a Publix where Hogg had organized a “die-in” to protest the company’s NRA donations. The Coconut Creek police department is referring the officer for unspecified disciplinary action.

Rudy Giuliani got booed by the crowd while attending a ball game at Yankee Stadium.

Your Feel-good Story of the Week

A retired English teacher wrote to the current administration after the Parkland shooting, asking the White House to do something about gun reform. She received a letter from Donald riddled with errors—so she corrected and returned it.

In an atmosphere of school shootings, budget cuts in education, and Betsy DeVos, teachers are running for office in unprecedented numbers.

Q & A with Cat Yuracka of the Resistance Choir of South Central Texas

The Resistance Choir of South Central Texas was the brainchild of TX21 Indivisible activist Cat Yuracka, who in April 2017 pulled together like-minded, “more enthusiastic than talented” activists to partake in the joy of communal singing. Since then, the Choir has brought traditional and contemporary protest songs, songs of social justice and “revolutionary snark” to meetings, marches, rallies, protests, candidate forums, parades, private parties, and one ill-conceived Special Session of the Texas Legislature.

Cat’s “practice at home” method allows anyone with a desire to sing to learn songs on their own time, with biweekly rehearsals to “file off the rough edges.” From the choir’s Facebook page:

Our rare in-person hours designed to work out the rough spots in compositions still tend to vacillate between focused rehearsals and gab sessions, depending on whether or not deadlines are looming… We strive first & foremost to create a safe space where individuals rich in diversity of age, lifestyle, heritage, life experience, musical experience & talent can decompress for a couple hours a month together and encourage each other to bring their unique gifts to the forefront.

Cat’s dream is to franchise her model to other cities: So any budding choir directors reading this should get in touch (resistancechoirtexas@gmail.com).

Facebook group:
https://www.facebook.com/groups/405773373139678/

Fan page:
https://www.facebook.com/ResistanceChoirTexas/

How and when did you become an activist?

The Resistance Choir of South Central Texas

I came out of my post-election coma to find my world on fire over all things Trumpellian. As a survivor of childhood rape, I felt that I was more aware than most folks of the danger we were now facing, having ignorantly given a serial predator this kind of power. At the time, I was pretty incapacitated by an Access Hollywood-tape/election-debacle-induced PTSD meltdown, but I knew as soon as I recovered I would need to throw myself headlong into the fight.

I was painfully aware that my daughter and granddaughter’s futures were endangered from the misogynistic fallout of the election, not to mention all the marginalized groups under attack due to his racism and ignorance. Having been an abused kid who no one stepped in to “save,” I have always found it next to impossible to stand by and watch someone being abused without intervening.

I found the Indivisible Guide thanks to Rachel Maddow sometime after the election and became a member of TX21 Indivisible on January 19, 2017.  I literally came back to life by attending the Women’s March in Austin on January 21, 2017, and thanks to the TX21 Indivisible leadership, education and camaraderie, my metamorphosis from full-time gardener to full-time political activist was complete when I shut down my estate gardening business in spring 2017.

What issues are you most passionate about?

Members of the Resistance Choir of South Central Texas hold a Moms Demand Action Banner

Well…that would have to be removing the pedophilic (probably incestuous), malignantly narcissistic, treasonous, Mafioso-inspired rapist from the Presidency. With my lifelong issues of child protection advocacy, responsible gun ownership legislation and women’s rights now coming in a close 2nd, 3rd and 4th.

Assuming you are not a paid protester, what is your day job?

Retired, thank God. I’ve been trying to come up with an angle to use home business tax deductions to alleviate a bit of the cost of The Resistance…but so far, I got nuthin’.

What advice do you have for people who want to get involved?

Cat Yuracka in Handmaids Uniform

Plug into your local Indivisible. Hang out with and read the works of people who are more knowledgeable and experienced than you are. Stay up-to-date as best you can, but resist the temptation to think you can fight on every front. Pick a couple of areas and become disciplined about making them your focus. Remember to breathe: The Resistance is a choir piece, not a solo. Take advantage of the fact that others will cover while you take a quick breath. And strive for some kind of balance…it’s never worked for me, but folks I respect swear by it!

Is there anything else you would like to add?

Cat Yuracka with Beto O'Rourke
Cat photobombed by some random politician

The Resistance Choir of South Central Texas was literally a spin-off from TX21 Indivisible that has since tried to run hand-in-hand with the Central Texas Indivisible movement. Although we have been honored with invites to sing from other groups and individuals, the folks of Indivisible are our family and we do our best to support their Calls to Action whenever they are brought to our attention.

Also, my original vision had Choir Directors in each city who would manage their individual branches and then work together to improvise and record harmonies, coordinate the focus of practices and serve as our “solid core” for stage performances.

(If you are interested in leading or joining a choir in Austin, San Antonio, San Marcos, or Kerrville, contact Cat at resistancechoirtexas@gmail.com.)

Gallery: the Resistance Choir of South Central Texas

How Your Voices Are Making a Difference: “Our presidency has been debased”

5/28: “Our presidency has been debased.”

That quote comes from a Republican senator, Jeff Flake—one of the handful of lawmakers freed of the need to pander to the base with announcement of his retirement, who is speaking out openly against Don John and his abuses of office. At an address to Harvard Law School, Flake called Donny “a figure who has a seemingly bottomless appetite for destruction and division. And only a passing familiarity with how the Constitution works.”

It may herald a wave of GOP lawmakers finding some kind of backbone; in fact the New York Times reports on a coalition of high-profile and well-funded Republicans joining Democrats in trying to curb Donald’s attempts to chip away at our democracy.

And a bipartisan group of senators—including, amazingly, John Cornyn—are speaking out against Donald’s efforts to lessen sanctions and penalties on Chinese telecom company ZTE and other Chinese companies that are “serial and pre-meditated violators of U.S. law.” Marco Rubio has gone so far as to suggest Congress will block any attempts by ZTE to operate in the U.S.

In a hilarious example of his incompetence, as Donald erratically spewed invective and flattery at North Korea and Kim Jong Un, he found time to accuse the New York Times of making up a source on his vacillation in the planned June 12summit with the brutal North Korean dictator—a source the White House itself sent to brief dozens of reporters from other media outlets as well.

Just before Don John canceled the dangled carrot of a mythical meeting with brutal dictator Kim Jong Un North Korea issued one of its linguistically pungent statements regarding VP Mike Pence, calling him a “political dummy” and saying:“As a person involved in the U.S. affairs, I cannot suppress my surprise at such ignorant and stupid remarks gushing out from the mouth of the U.S. vice president.” Trust me, North Korea, as people directly involved in U.S. affairs, neither can we.

Russia

Former Don John senior campaign adviser A. J. Delgado couldn’t restrain her disbelief at Donald’s desperate attacks against the FBI. After he tweeted that he would ask his DoJ to open an investigation into whether President Obama and the FBI “embedded” a “spy” into his campaign (an informant was dispatched, consistent with FBI protocol in an active investigation, which was already under way at that time because of evidence indicating possible involvement by the Trump campaign with Russia’s efforts to tamper with our election) and Rod Rosenstein palliated the colluder in chief and agreed to the baseless demand, the former Trump campaign senior adviser tweeted, “Are we really going w this?? That Obama put a spy inside the Trump campaign, to frame Trump? Srsly? Not sure if it’s IQ, ethics, or simple common sense but I cant.”

Even frequent Trump toady Lindsay Graham spoke out against Don John’s “spygate” conspiracy attacks against the Mueller investigation, and Mitch McConnell says he supports the investigation as well.

Meanwhile Robert Mueller is investigating former Donald adviser Roger Stone’s finances, and the Taxi King will testify: One of Michael Cohen’s business partners, a Russian immigrant business owner, has agreed to cooperate with federal investigators as a potential witness, and the FBI has obtained wiretap recordings with a Kremlin-linked banker who later met with Don Jr during the 2016 campaign.

Gun reform:

Even before the Santa Fe shooting, more than half of Texans polled favored stronger commonsense gun laws.

Questioned on why his company was making a political stand in terminating the discount program formerly offered to the NRA, United Airlines CEO stood strongly by the company’s decision, stating that it wasn’t political but ”personal with regard to my family at United.” One of the 17 people killed at the Parkland school shooting was the teenage daughter of a United captain.

After activists led by Parkland survivor David Hogg organized a planned “die-in” at Publix at news that the corporation donated $670K to a pro-NRA Republican candidate, the grocery store giant announced it would immediately stop all political donations.

 “Draining the Swamp”

Mick Mulvaney, White House budget director, is in an all-fired hurry to replace Paul Ryan as speaker of the House. Other lawmakers are showing rustlings of discontent with Ryan’s leadership, and a willingness to consider his departure. Don’t let the door hit you in the nonexistent spine on your way out, Paul.

Scott Pruitt’s EPA keeps trying to push through regulatory rollbacks without adequate study, vetting, or scientific support. Among the more than half dozen EPA regulation rollbacks proposed by Pruitt and hitting legal and procedural snags is how coal-burning power plants must store potentially toxic waste. An environmental watchdog group threw a wrench in the works when they pointed out the EPA’s lack of established scientific research used to support the measure. Pruitt’s EPA was relying on a four-page document by a utility industry trade association, which acknowledged that its conclusions were not “part of or a summary of a larger study.”

The Law Against Republicans:

Have you had the honor of being blocked by the bloviator in chief on his Twitter account? A federal judge has ruled that such action on a presidential account is unconstitutional and a violation of the First Amendment.

federal judge ruled in favor of a transgender student who fought for the right to use the boys’ bathroom at his school.

Eight families of victims of the Sandy Hook shooting are suing conspiracy theorist and shock jock Alex Jones in three separate lawsuits for his propagation of false claims that the Sandy Hook shooting was a hoax.

New Jersey has become the first Atlantic state to put a legal barrier up against Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke’s (and the White House’s, in conjunction with the oil and gas industry) attempts to encourage offshore oil drilling. A new bill passed in NJ prohibits oil exploration in state waters, and bars pipeline construction from federal waters.

Social and Civil Rights Advances

Ireland voted in a landslide to overturn among the most restrictive abortion laws in the world.

Stacey Abrams won the a gubernatorial primary to become the first black woman candidate for governor in either major party has won the primary in the United States—in Georgia, of all places.

Cracker Barrel and several other restaurants kicked Georgia Republican gubernatorial candidate Michael Williams’s offensive deportation bus off its properties.

A prominent Southern Baptist church leader who made sexist, demeaning comments about women has been removed from his position.

A group of prominent Christian leaders drafted a manifesto that doesn’t mention, but directly implicates, Donny’s abuses of office as antithetical to true Christian belief. “Christians should stand against “the practice and pattern of lying that is invading our political and civil life.” It goes on to explicitly condemn white nationalism, misogyny and the abuse of women, attacks on immigrants and refugees, and cutting aid to the poor while offering tax breaks to the rich, and calls the “America First” doctrine “theological heresy.”

The Senate is finally moving closer to getting legislation on the floor to revamp laws on how sexual harassment and other workplace misconduct is handled in Congress.

Your Feel-good Stories of the Week

The Obamas signed a multiyear deal with Netflix to produce high-road programming—scripted and unscripted—to highlight issues President Obama pursued while in office, and spread messages and examples of good in the world.

sinkhole has opened up on the White House lawn—exactly one year to the day that a sinkhole opened up on the Mar-A-Lago grounds. Coincidence, or the Lord of Darkness calling his minions home?

How Your Voices Are Making a Difference: 5/22: “We do not hide our feeling of repugnance towards him.”

No, that’s not “Things Americans say about Donald Trump” (or at least not just that). That’s from a statement Kim Jong Un issued referencing security adviser John Bolton, while making noises about backing out of Donald’s much-vaunted meeting with the mentally deranged dotard in chief. I know this is hard to believe, but the very stable genius seems to have been braggadocios before having any reason to. Talks with North Korea are seeming less likely after Kim Jong Un announced his country would never stop their nuclear program in exchange for economic dealings with the U.S. Does this mean Don John won’t get his self-touted Nobel Peace prize?

Elsewhere in the world, things are getting so bad even Rex Tillerson is full of warnings about Donald and the demise of democracy…but there’s lots and lots and lots of progress to report this week. (So much is going against Donald’s administration, in fact, that apparently even Sarah Huckabee Sanders couldn’t figure out how to spin it—the White House canceled three briefings on successive days last week.)

GOP Smackdowns

The Senate voted to overturn the FCC’s attempt to repeal net neutrality rules 52-47. Though the measure likely won’t pass the House nor make it through the White House, it’s a sign that some GOP senators (or at least John Kennedy, Lisa Murkowski and Susan Collins) understand that they have a duty to protect America and her people, and perhaps others may locate enough of a spine to stand against Donald and his cronies’ efforts to dismantle her democracy.

In further evidence, the Senate also backed the intelligence community’s findings that Russia interfered with the 2016 elections to benefit Donald.

And 20 Republicans in the House have signed a petition to force a vote on DACA to give Dreamers legal residency status and offer a path to citizenship, despite Paul Ryan’s increasingly frantic and petulant efforts to stifle the rebellion. Just five more GOP signatures, together with all the Dems in the House, will force a debate on the issue.

Plus a nearly $1 billion GOP farm bill Ryan championed failed embarrassingly in the GOP-controlled House.

Dems flipped a House seat in Pennsylvania on Tuesday—bringing the total number of flipped seats since Donald’s attempted coup of our government to 41. Many of these seats involved women—more on that below.

Donald’s ethics disclosure released Wednesday listed money reimbursed last year to Michael Cohen, who paid off Stephanie Clifford (Stormy Daniels) for her silence. Donald’s recent statements (along with those of diarrhea-mouthed Rudy Giuliani) that he did indeed pay Cohen back for paying Clifford were an attempt to clear him of campaign finance violations—and they indicate that this repayment was for that purpose. Which interestingly opens up a new ethical and legal can of worms, as he didn’t disclose it earlier, and lied about it before.

Russia

The Office of Government Ethics filed a letter with Rosenstein, deputy AG for the DoJ and in charge of Mueller’s Russia investigation, alerting Rosenstein to the payoff as a debt that may be relevant to “any inquiry” the DoJ is pursuing. It's Mueller TimeWonder which one they mean? Former White House ethics czar and unlikely superhero Walter Shaub says the letter is “tantamount to a criminal referral.” (BTW, if you aren’t following Shaub’s Twitter account, you should be.)

Grassley released thousands of pages of the Trump Tower emails.

Mueller has subpoenaed the social media expert for one of Donald’s chief advisers in the 2016 campaign, Roger Stone.

Cohen solicited the government of Qatar for $1 million for access to Donald’s incoming administration in late 2016—in other words pitching the sale of influence on our government to a foreign power.

Three months before the 2016 election, Donald Jr. and several other Donald aides met with a Middle Eastern emissary offering them help in winning the election for Donald. Don’t worry…Mueller’s on it.

A federal judge denied Paul Manafort’s bid to have Mueller’s indictment of him dismissed—for the second time—calling Manafort “an obvious person of interest.”

Manafort seems to having his own karmic smackdown, as his former son-in-law has decided the time has come to plead guilty and cooperate with Robert Mueller. Know what time I mean? I think you do…

The Law Against Republicans

A district judge in Seattle had to actually forbid the federal government from continuing to state that a Mexican man ICE is trying to deport has gang ties—because they have presented zero evidence of it. While he was at it the judge forbade ICE to revoke the man’s work authorization or DACA enrollment. Thank god for the judicial branch—it’s the only grown-ass adult in the room at the moment.

Oh, wait, the UN is also an adult—the General Assembly voted 128 to 9 to declare Donald’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital null and void, a sharp (and humiliating) rebuke to the man-baby in chief.

Good old California, along with 18 other states, filed papers in support of a lawsuit filed by multiple Planned Parenthood branches to prevent the federal government from blocking funding for family planning services.

The Justice Department as well as the FBI are investigating Cambridge Analytica. The whistle-blower who first alerted about the company’s privacy law violations has testified that CA dictated that only Republican causes and companies were to be accepted.

An executive at Novartis, the drug company that paid Donny’s embattled lawyer Michael Cohen $1.2 million for possible access to and sway with Donald, has resigned. He seems be taking a page from Donald and to erroneously believe this will put a stop to any further investigation.

An appeals court judge denied Donald’s attempts to halt Summer Zervos defamation lawsuit.

Three top Dem senators requested a multiagency inspector general investigation (a rare request) into why this administration has not enacted congressionally mandated Russia sanctions.

 “Draining the Swamp”

The White House eliminated the top cyber policy post, saying they wanted to “streamline authority.” Hmmm…why could Donald want to get rid of experts in cybersecurity and shorten the chain of command of those responsible for stopping it?

Betsy DeVos’s education department is dismantling a unit responsible for investigating fraud at for-profit colleges (like Trump University, and also schools where some of DeVos’s top hires in the department formerly worked).

EPA head Scott Pruitt—among many other ethical and potentially legal violations—sought to block publication of a nationwide water contamination crisis regarding a class of toxic chemicals that has contaminated water supplies near sites across several states, citing concerns about “a public relations nightmare.”

former Trump campaign aid is helping a Russian firm owned by a Russian billionaire with close ties to Putin avoid U.S. sanctions.

Donald named the entirely unqualified and inexperienced brother-in-law of Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell and his wife, who is also transportation secretary, Elaine Chao, as head of a Labor Department agency responsible for paying back dissolved pensions. Please reread that sentence and remind yourself this is happening in the U.S., not a nepotistic banana republic.

Republicans Violating Ethics

China—which was just given a bye on sanctions for a major cell phone company and a tariff exemption by Donald—is offering a $500 million loan to a state-owned Indonesian amusement park that will feature three Trump-branded properties.

Gina Haspel, Donald’s embattled CIA nominee who was directly involved in torture of POWs, recanted and finally stated torture to be wrong. Just in time for the vote on her confirmation (which went through).

In about as clear an indication yet of the banana republic regime Donald would like to be leading, he directly tried to coerce the postmaster general into doubling shipping rates for Amazon—the company headed by his archnemesis, Jeff Bezos, who also owns the Washington Post. The postmaster, Megan Brennan, pushed back and attempted to educate the president of the United States about the law and democracy, informing him that those rates are bound by contracts and changes would have to be reviewed by a regulatory commission.

Gun Control

The city council of Boulder, Colorado, voted—unanimously—to ban semiautomatic rifles.

On the same day a school shooter in Santa Fe, TX, killed 10 people, high school students advocating for gun-reform laws were arrested outside Paul Ryan’s office.

Former Austin police chief Art Acevedo posted a no-holds-barred status on his Facebook page after the Santa Fe school shooting, stating, among other direct rebukes of politicians’ inaction in the face of NRA money, “This isn’t a time for prayers, and study and inaction, it’s a time for prayers, action and the asking of God’s forgiveness for our inaction (especially the elected officials that ran to the cameras today, acted in a solemn manner, called for prayers, and will once again do absolutely nothing).”

Civil and social rights advances

Women won the living crap out of some primary elections. In Pennsylvania, a state with exactly zero female representatives in Congress, twenty women ran on the democratic ticket in the primaries in PA, and seven will be on the ballot in November. Women won 16 of the 19 House Democratic primaries, eight black women won primaries, and in four states (Indiana, North Carolina, Ohio and West Virginia), women won 63 percent of the primary nominations.

The Texas Commission on Law Enforcement reversed an earlier decision to offer continuing education credits for a course taught by an ex-FBI agent based on a conspiracy theory that Muslim groups want to overthrow the U.S. government and implement Islamic law, in which he calls Islam “barbaric and evil” and dark-skinned airport security workers “jihadists” and “terrorists.” The commission revoked the credits it had given members for the course.

At a Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf in California, a barista refused to serve a man making racist comments to a Muslim patron—and her bosses backed her up. (Starbucks: Take note. The coffee giant had yet another racist incident this past week when a barista wrote “Beaner” on a cup instead of the patron’s name, Pedro.)

Your Feel-good Stories of the Week

Lawyer Aaron Schlossberg—whose very public racist rant against employees speaking Spanish in a restaurant went viral—is experiencing the great karmic bitch-slap of life: hiding from the press, dealing with a rash of bad reviews on his firm’s Yelp page, and probably looking at the end of his career. He’s also the target of a complaint filed with the state court disciplinary system for misconduct for the rant. In true I <3 NY style, New Yorkers held a fiesta outside his apartment building, and an online campaign raised money to hire a mariachi band to follow him around and play for him.

Nobody in the private sector seems to want to hire anyone who worked for Donald.

Where Has All Our Common Sense Gone? Remarks at the NRA Convention

I gave these remarks at the Texas Gun Sense press conference outside the NRA convention on May 4. Today, once again, children were slaughtered at school because our lawmakers refuse to take any meaningful action to protect them. With each mass shooting, families and communities are devastated, and the community of survivors grows ever larger. After a murderer cut our children down today in their classrooms, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick declared a war on doors, as though they were the real culprits in today’s deaths. There is evidence to support reasonable gun reform, and it doesn’t include trapping our children inside their schools in violation of fire codes, common sense, and common decency. We need serious people in office who will pursue policies that protect our children and communities, not guns.

My name is Lisa Goodgame, and I’m the President of Indivisible Austin. We are a chapter of the national grassroots movement focused on defending democracy and holding our member of Congress accountable. We believe that gun violence prevention is one of the biggest issues we’ll face in the coming year and in the next legislative session. I speak to you today not only as an activist and advocate, but as a gun violence survivor.

In the middle of the night of October 2, 1993, my 18-year-old sister Rani Goodgame was murdered in Houston. Two young guys shot her and another young woman at a party and she died at the scene. She had just started college at the University of Houston and she planned to pursue a degree in sports psychology. But instead of graduating and having a long life ahead of her, she was cut down in a hail of bullets.

I stand here as a member of the ever-growing community of gun violence survivors. Twenty-four years to the day of my sister’s murder we woke up to news of the massacre in Las Vegas. That day the survivor community grew by thousands. Twenty-four years to the day of the shooting at Parkland my family got the notification of the latest victim impact hearing as one of her murderers comes up for parole. That day the survivor community grew by thousands.

I’m here today to represent survivors who can’t be here to speak, but I’m also here to issue a challenge to our lawmakers.

Today our senators Cornyn and Cruz will the address the NRA convention. They are both A+ rated by the NRA, but they are failing our children, communities and schools because they are beholden to the gun lobby’s special interest and letting our children die.

Our children are a special interest.

Our communities are a special interest.

Our schools are a special interest.

In his pro-NRA op-ed in the Dallas Morning News, Sen. Cruz called those of us who are calling for commonsense gun reform “dunces” and “extremists.” No one speaking here today is either of those things. We aren’t dunces. We’re seeking policy change that the vast majority of Americans and Texans support. A Quinnipiac poll released on April 19 found that 94 percent of voters support universal background checks. 55 percent overall support stricter gun laws, and 53 percent want an assault weapon ban.

The majority of Texans are not dunces and they are not extremists. We are ready for political and policy change, and we’re ready to end the NRA’s stranglehold on our lawmakers.

My Sister Was Murdered With An Assault Weapon, and Better Gun Laws Might Have Stopped It From Happening

Note: This article, by Indivisible Austin Board President Lisa Goodgame, was originally posted on xojane.com in April 2013. 

Surviving sisters Lisa and Rani, with a photo of their youngest sister, who was murdered

“Her death created a rift in our family. We will always be the Goodgames before and the Goodgames after. Because she was so young, after is proving to be a very long time.”

On the night of October 1, 1993 the phone rang just as we were all climbing into bed.

Well, not quite all. My youngest sister was asleep at a friend’s house, and my parents and I were home, having returned late from a Friday night dinner.

My other sister, Rani Goodgame, wasn’t with us. Three young criminals had shot and killed her using an illegally acquired automatic weapon, among other guns. The phone was ringing to tell my parents that they needed to come identify her body.

Two of the shooters were under eighteen, and one was out on bond for another murder he’d allegedly committed a few weeks earlier. They shot another young woman that night, too. Fortunately, she survived.

My sister was 18 and had just started college. That night, all she was doing was sitting in her car outside a party. Three boys murdered her in a spray of more than 100 rounds shot from a weapon that would be banned less than a year later.

Like so many victims of gun violence, she was in the wrong place at the wrong time.

RIP

Early Saturday morning, the calls started coming as people heard the morning news report on the radio. Incredulous, they asked if they had just heard that a Goodgame had been shot and killed. I sat in the vestibule outside the rabbi’s office at the synagogue, waiting for him to arrive before Saturday morning services so I could tell him that one of the Goodgame girls, whom he’d known since birth, had been murdered. We didn’t think that he’d answer the phone since it was Shabbat.

I returned home to find media camped out on our street, hoping to interview us. Two days later, hundreds of people attended her funeral, which was filmed in its entirety by the local television stations.

In the following months and years, I watched my family struggle in the aftermath of losing a child, grandchild, and sister to violence. My parents seemed lost in a way I can never expect to understand, in a way I hope never to know.

My youngest sister seemed to barely make it through school that year. She and Rani were close in age and had almost always been at the same school at the same time. Her best friend had been ripped away without a moment’s notice, without a goodbye.

My relationship with my sister was in a difficult place when she was killed. We had argued the week before when she decided to move out of our parents’ home. The last conversation we had still rings in my skull. When somebody dies unexpectedly, there’s a lot of unfinished business and tangled emotions. I was angry with my sister at the time of her death. It was an anger that, had she survived, we probably would have worked through and been able to move on. Now and forever, that chance of reconciliation is gone.

At the time, I couldn’t release the anger I felt toward her. I was in shock for several months, and once I got past the denial, I found myself stuck in anger. My anger manifested itself in several ways, but the most disturbing were the nightmares I’d have in which the gun was turned on me. Maybe that was my brain’s way of moving me from anger to bargaining — if only I had been the one to die…

It took years for the anger to finally dissipate, and for me to be able to remember my sister as she was for most of her life: a goofy, smiling dancer and gymnast who loved our dogs and made a silly, pouty bottom lip when she didn’t get her way.

Her death created a rift in our family. We will always be the Goodgames before and the Goodgames after. Because she was so young, after is proving to be a very long time. After has included campaigns to keep her killers from getting paroled. This last year, since the 19th anniversary of her death in October 2012, has been an especially rough one, and not just because the 20-year mark is fast approaching. It’s been a difficult year filled with hideous acts of gun violence and the ensuing political polarization capped off by the Senate’s deeply disappointing actions yesterday.

At a time when a majority of Americans, as measured by every major poll, support stronger background checks, a ban on high capacity ammunition clips, and a ban on assault weapons, our legislators have let us down by failing to listen to the majority. They have failed to do their duty as our representatives. For me, it’s personal because the weaknesses of our laws in all three areas contributed to the climate that made it possible for three criminals, two of whom were minors, to acquire the assault weapon that killed my sister.

Sometimes it feels as though people forget about the victims and those left behind. As they clamor for their right to own any and all varieties of gun, they also sow fears and distrust that the government wants to track gun owners for the express purpose of confiscating their legally acquired and owned weapons.

Members of my own family do this. I see their posts online, the ones that garner comments calling people like me, who want smarter laws but who aren’t inherently anti-gun, “violent political extremists” because we voted for Democrats. The comments that question whether people like me are patriotic, whether we are true Americans.

I love my family, but sometimes I hate their ideals. They love me, and I’m sure they hate mine. When the issue is taxes or health care reform, I can write off our differences. But when the issue is something that touches me and the friends and families of the 3,514+ people who have been killed by gun violence just since Sandy Hook, I can’t set it aside so easily.

I can’t simply hide the wall posts and pretend they never happened. I want to make them understand, but I don’t know how to and I feel helpless. At this juncture our positions are firmly held and we, like so many Americans, are confounded by the other’s beliefs.

Yesterday afternoon, I heard President Obama’s speech while I was driving home. I was amazed at how angry he sounded, and it was an anger that I know reverberated through the Senate chamber as Vice-President Biden announced that the hard-fought compromise had failed. Had I been there, standing shoulder to shoulder with the other victims (and yes, we who live in the after are victims, too), I would likely have shouted “Shame on you!” too.

Three sisters

It’s taken me almost 20 years to be able to write this story. I have told it many times to friends and co-workers. I haven’t so much chosen to remain silent as felt that the story wasn’t ready to be told. Today on that car ride home, the story came to life.

You may not agree with me. You may think I’m using pathos to appeal on this issue. You may think the minority of Senators who blocked the bill and its amendments from moving forward yesterday were right.

We’ll have to agree to disagree, and hopefully, one day soon, America’s lawmakers will listen to the majority of their constituents. Democracy is rough go sometimes. Let’s hope it goes the people’s way sometime soon.