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Take Action: Three reasons to keep calling Cornyn and Cruz about Kavanaugh

Endorsements

Lloyd Doggett for U.S. House District 35

Indivisible Austin endorses Lloyd Doggett for TX-35

Indivisible Austin is proud to endorse Rep. Lloyd Doggett (TX-35) for reelection.

Read our full statement >>

Take Action

Three reasons to keep calling Cornyn and Cruz about Kavanaugh

Indivisible San Antonio asked:

Honest question: Is it even worth my time calling Ted Cruz and John Cornyn offices to vote against Brett Kavanaugh?

Ezra Levin, co-executive director of Indivisible, gave three reasons to keep calling our most stick-in-the-mud senators, which we’ve expanded here:

  1. In closed-door GOP meetings, they report that even they are getting pushback.
  2. They probably will still vote the wrong way, but you can make them less outspoken.
  3. Lower their approval for future election. (Gotta get earned media for this though.)

Brett Kavanaugh at swearing-in with DubyaThis last point is important. Before the 2016 election, many of us didn’t know who represented us in Congress. (Decades of relentless gerrymandering will do that.) Now that we have our senators and representative on speed dial, they can no longer hide from their bad policies and failure to represent constituents. Because of this newfound awareness, all of our GOP-held House districts are in play, and Ted Cruz is neck and neck with Beto O’Rourke. This was unimaginable two years ago. So keep the pressure on: 2018 is here, and 2020 (when John Cornyn will get his time in the barrel) is right around the corner.

Meanwhile, Kavanaugh’s hearing is scheduled to begin on September 4th, and the National Archives has refused Democrats’ request to release records from Kavanaugh’s time as staff secretary in the Bush White House.

Visit Indivisible.org for Kavanaugh talking points >>

Tell Cornyn and Cruz: No on David Porter for a lifetime judgeship

No lifetime appointment for David Porter

From Indivisible East Bay:

Remember David Porter, Trump’s judicial nominee who would have been happy to live 100 years ago? Sen. McConnell wants to bring this nomination to a final vote when the Senate returns from recess. He’s looking for enough votes from Senators to do this.

David Porter has criticized Supreme Court cases that supported FDR’s New Deal (yes, in 1933), and he belongs to a conservative think tank that says the minimum wage is unconstitutional. As an attorney, he has worked against the Affordable Care Act, women’s rights, marriage equality, environmental protection, and workers’ rights. Porter should never be a judge.

Learn more and download graphics from Indivisible East Bay >>

How your voices are making a difference

  • In a victory for unions, Missouri voters rejected a “right-to-work” law by a wide margin
  • The army suspended discharges of foreign-born recruits who enlisted through DACA
  • Thousands of antiracist protesters drowned out the Unite the Right rally in DC

Read more >>

Events

  • Wednesday, Aug. 15, 6:30 to 8 p.m., Cat Mountain Clubhouse 6007 Mt Bonnell Rd—Northwest Hills TX-25 Town Hall. Grab a slice of pizza and get to know your candidates for U.S. Congress Texas District 25. Democratic candidate Julie Oliver has confirmed that she will be available to answer questions and we’ve extended an invitation to Republican candidate Roger Williams. (Facebook event)
  • Thursday, Aug. 16, 8:30 to 9:30 a.m., 1105 N IH35 – Indivisible Rosedale Huddle brings us banner drops Thursdays this August. This week: Cruz thinks Trump will help him! (Facebook event)
  • Saturday, Aug. 18, 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., Olamaie, 1610 San Antonio St. Texas Tribune Summer Salon: Families Divided. As the government works to reunite hundreds of migrant parents and children who remain separated under the Trump administration’s now-paused “zero tolerance” policy, hear from the lawyers, activists, lawmakers and journalists working on the front lines. (Eventbrite)
  • Save the Date: Monday, Aug. 27, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., Robert B. Rowling Hall, 300 W Martin Luther King Jr Blvd – Texas Disability Issues Forum (TDIF) brings together members of the Texas disability community, major candidates for statewide office, and disability advocates (Event link at REV UP!)

Countdown: 84 Days to November

BLUE WAVELast week, we suggested talking to the people in your life about their voter registration. That’s still a good idea! We also recommend you double-check your own current registration is correct and active. (The rate of voting roll purges has increased dramatically in Texas since the Supreme Court’s gutting of the Voting Rights Act in 2013.)

Squared away? Great! Mark your calendars for our weekly phone banks, coming to you Tuesdays between now and November 6th!

For maximum effort: reach out to gotv@indivisibleaustin.com to get involved with the GOTV working group, or volunteer to host a phone bank or postcard party at your home or a local spot!

Congress Critter of the Week: Rep. Michael McCaul, TX-10

It’s August in Central Texas, and that means it’s hot and dry. It means a lot of brown grass and occasional wildfires. It also means water restrictions. We all cut back on our usage and are more mindful of what we’re doing with our water, because it’s part of the city’s regulations, but more than that, we do it because we know it’s the right and wise thing to do for our community. Well, most of us at least.

Mike Siegel

Rep. Mike McCaul TX-10 can’t be bothered to even consider water usage. His estate in Westlake Hills is regularly among the top water users in Austin, and in 2017 they used more water than ANYONE else in the city. We don’t know exactly how much water they used, because they chose to hide that from the public, but just the second highest water consumer used more than 1,400,900 gallons. That’s more than 200X the average household water use.

It makes you wonder what other important community needs he doesn’t bother to concern himself with.

Mike Siegel is running against Mike McCaul for the TX-10 seat in November.

Your Moment of Zen

How are you this week? We’re making sure to take some time to breathe, to connect—with our communities, including the natural one around us. Take a moment today to enjoy this human-goose flight team:

Funding the Fight

Taco plate from Taco DeliThey say an army marches on its belly. That’s true for an army of block walking canvassers, phone bankers, and letter writers too.

Be a part of the movement by making a contribution today! Your gift of $25 or $50 could provide the coffee and breakfast tacos that get us and America over the line.

“Turn that plane around” | How your voices are making a difference

8/13/18 “Turn that plane around and bring those people back to the United States. It’s outrageous.”

How’s it going, warriors? Hanging in there amid the disheartening global-warming news of fires and floods and heat waves? I’m starting off this week with a spectrum of news of our progress that doesn’t fit into a category.

California, which has the power to overrule federal fuel-efficiency requirements under the Clean Air Act, refuted the White House’s stance on lowering fuel-efficiency regulations with a flurry of facts on pollution, and announced plans to adhere to current federal standards with more stringent fuel emissions restrictions, rather than allow state manufacturers to lower them to Donald’s proposed levels.

In a nearly unprecedented move, Apple removed all Infowars’ conspiracy theorists Alex Jones’s podcasts, joining Spotify, Facebook, Google, and YouTube.

Tribune Broadcasting has withdrawn from the proposed merger with Sinclair, a broadcast company so conservative they make FOX look like flaming socialists, after the FCC (inexplicably, under pro-Trump, anti-net neutrality Ajit Pai) expressed reservations about the merger, which would have given the joined company a presence in 72 percent of markets—well over the FCC ceiling of 32. Tribune plans to sue for breach of contract.

Donny-endorsed Kris Kobach’s lead over Governor Jeff Colyer in Kansas was sliced from a narrow 191 to a whisper-thin 91 when election officials discovered an error in transmitting votes from one countyKobach, the Kansas secretary of state, finally recused himself from overseeing the count when Colyer demanded he stop advising county election officials.

Ohio’s razor-close House race got shaved even closer when more than 500 votes from one county were “found” and tallied. Democrat Danny O’Connor trails Republican Troy Balderson by a scant 1564 votes, and votes are still being counted (despite Balderson and the very stable genius prematurely declaring victory).

Unflaggingly obsequious Trump toady Devin Nunes was recorded possibly violating his oath of office to hold the executive branch to account, instead telling a group of GOP donors that they were the last line of defense to “protect” little Don in the Russia investigation.

The army has (temporarily) suspended discharges of foreign-born recruits who enlisted through DACA.

Let’s not lend much credence to anything publicity-seeking missile Omarosa Manigault Newman has to say—however,documentation does prove her claim that she was offered hush money to be silent about her time working with the commander of cheese. That’s another data point in a long line of hush-money payments to silence the hemorrhaging of info about things little Don doesn’t want the world to know about—things are beginning to come to light.

The immigration lawyer for Melania Trump’s parents, who just became citizens as beneficiaries of the “chain migration” Donald is trying to end for others, called out Donald’s hostility to the policy as “unconscionable.”

Mueller Time

As Robert Mueller expands his investigation, per his DoJ mandate, to explore other legal wrongdoings he may discover, I’m renaming the Russia section to encompass it all.

Rick Gates, Mueller’s eagerly cooperative witness, has rolled like a burrito against Paul Manafort, delineating the more than 15 foreign bank accounts Manafort hid from the IRS, that he lied for years at Manafort’s behest, and the many ways in which Manafort and Gates—Donald’s chief and secondary campaign advisers—broke the law.

Andrew Miller, a longtime Roger Stone associate, is being held in contempt of court for refusing to testify despite being subpoenaed.

Republicans Against the Law (slash “Draining the Swamp”—there’s so much overlap lately)

Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross is at the center of a $120 million lawsuit alleging that Ross stole from his business partner.

A Richmond, VA, GOP house rep falsified a petition for the candidacy of an independent to draw votes away from the Democratic candidate using names of deceased and relocated voters.

Federal prosecutors in NYC are investigating former Donny attorney (and current stool pigeon) Michael Cohen for tax fraud. Who could have foreseen this? (Side note: Won’t it be fun if Dems take the House and/or Senate this fall and have the power to subpoena the commander of cheese’s tax returns?)

Republican Rep Christopher Collins of New York —Donald’s first congressional endorser—has been charged with insider trading. Collins intended to stay on the ballot in November nonetheless—and why not? In Donny’s GOP, criminality is no reason not to run for office—but twenty-four hours later Collins finally “suspended” his campaign.

federal judge ordered a plane carrying two asylum seekers turned around on the ground and returned to the U.S. after learning Jeff Sessions had the mother-daughter pair deported while their appeal was in process. The judge called the precipitous deportation “outrageous” and called Sessions on the carpet, threating to hold him in contempt.

federal appeals court ordered Donny’s administration to revoke its approval for a pesticide shown to damage the brains of children in even small amounts, stating that Scott Pruitt’s EPA had endangered public health by keeping it on the market.

A federal judge has ruled that the border patrol agent who shot a Mexican teenager across the border is not immune from facing charges for violating the child’s Constitutional right against excessive force by law enforcement.

Social and Civil Rights Advances

Congress is poised to get its first Muslim woman lawmaker—a welcome move toward representing all of America.

Missouri voters rejected a right-to-work law on the ballot by a wide margin, in a victory for unions.

A new record is being set for most female nominees for governor in a single year, and transgender candidates are running in unprecedented numbers for office this year.

Your Feel-good Stories of the Week

The much vaunted white-supremacist Unite the Right rally in DC Sunday ended with a fizzle when about two dozen people showed up to march—a bit below the 400 the organizers expected. Meanwhile, thousands of antiracist protesters showed up to line the streets and drown out the racist chants and speeches of the demonstrators. BOOM, bitches. That’s how we handle hate.

Don Jr. posted a hilariously blatantly Photoshopped image that presented false popularity ratings for his daddy—exaggerating them by 10 percent. The world noticed.

Enjoy Donald’s sparkling words of praise for Jeff Bezos and the Washington Post…five years ago.

Since then Donny has ramped up his attacks on the media, this past weekend tweeting, “The Fake News hates me saying that they are the Enemy of the People only because they know it’s TRUE. I am providing a great service by explaining this to the American People. They purposely cause great division & distrust. They can also cause War! They are very dangerous & sick!” Nearly every autocrat and tyrant in history has begun their regime by attacking and undermining those who can expose their efforts and corruption. On August 16 more than 70 newspapers across the country will publish varying op-eds from their opinion writers speaking out against this alarming attack on the First Amendment rights and the democratic protections created by a free press.

We lose only if we are silent in the face of attacks on democracy, warriors. Hang in there! So much progress has been made and continues to be, and so many democratic failsafes are working as the Founders intended; but that news can get lost amid the flashier breaches, outrages, and propaganda of the mentally deranged dotard and his GOP apologists. Wars are won by the unflagging efforts of those fighting for what’s right—our relentless persistence is what will protect our democracy. Those attacking it know that, and that’s one reason they keep up a steady barrage of offenses, hoping it will weary the country enough to allow them to remake it in their oligarchic ideal. Don’t let them succeed in wearing you down. Take care of yourselves, take mental-health breaks, but stay in the fight.

Endorsement: Lloyd Doggett for U.S. House District 35

Indivisible Austin endorses Lloyd Doggett for TX-35

Indivisible Austin is proud to endorse Rep. Lloyd Doggett (TX-35) for reelection. When Indivisible Austin started, and we began asking people which congressional district they lived in, the majority said “Doggett’s!” because at some point that was probably true—and he represents the values of our city much more than any other Austin-area Congressperson.

Thanks to gerrymandering by the Texas House, Rep. Doggett no longer represents most folks in Austin. But he has consistently shown an openness and willingness to engage with and represent all Austinites, regardless of which congressional district they call home. He is the only Austin-area member of Congress to hold public town halls open to all.

Rep. Doggett is the only reliable champion the Austin area has in its congressional delegation. He’s an active and vocal ally on every important issue. Rep. Doggett has been a steadfast supporter of the Affordable Care Act and thoroughly resisted all repeal efforts. Well before Trump was elected, Rep. Doggett founded the Affordable Prescription Drug Task Force and has consistently fought to advance real solutions to lower drug prices and address one of the biggest drivers of America’s healthcare crisis—in contrast to the president, who consistently lies to voters about his dedication to reducing drug prices.

As the ranking member of the Tax Policy Subcommittee of Ways and Means, Rep. Doggett was by our side fighting the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (aka the GOP Tax Scam) and he continues to call attention to the abject failures of that bill to make a positive difference in the lives of the vast majority of taxpayers. Rep. Doggett is a co-sponsor of the DREAM Act, and in March of this year voted against the House budget in part because it failed to offer any protection for Dreamers, while boosting funds for the so-called border wall.

We are pleased to endorse Rep. Doggett as a public servant who shares Indivisible Austin’s values: defending democracy, opposing authoritarianism, and protecting those most under attack by the immoral policies of the Trump administration.

Take Action: No Kavanaugh hearings before midterms

By August 7: Tell the Census Bureau to remove its citizenship question from the 2020 census form

United State Census 2020For the first time since 1950, the Census Bureau will ask all U.S. households about citizenship status, specifically, “Is this person a citizen of the United States?”

Because of the rapid growth in the Texas population in the last decade, Texas is poised to gain up to three new congressional representatives and millions of dollars for our state. However, the proposed citizenship question on the 2020 Census could prove to be a barrier between this new representation and funding if many Texans are concerned about filling out the Census because of the climate of fear caused by today’s politics.

The Census is not intended to count the number of U.S. citizens in each state. The Census is intended to count every person in the state regardless of their citizenship status.

Submit your comments to the Commerce Department by Tuesday, August 7 >>

Read “Why a 2020 Census citizenship question is a loser for Texans” (CPPP) >>

Tell Texas Secretary of State Rolando Pablos to give high school students the vote

Map of Texas high school voter registration compliance

From the Texas Observer:

“Abysmal compliance with a decades-old state law is leaving at least 180,000 high school seniors off the current voter rolls, according to a new report.”

“The authors of the report…call on the secretary of state’s office to automatically send the forms to schools, rather than requiring administrators to request them; offer online trainings for voter registrars; and create a publicly available database showing which schools are registering students.”

Contact Secretary Pablos:

Phone: (512) 463-5555
Email: secretary@sos.texas.gov

Tell Cornyn and Cruz: No Kavanaugh hearings before midterms

Unflattering headshots of John Cornyn and Ted CruzOur dear old friends John Cornyn and Ted Cruz sit on the Judiciary Committee, deciding things like whether hearings can be held on a Supreme Court nominee whose millions of pages of records have not been released. The National Archives needs until October to compile the initial request from Senator Grassley—which still does not include records from Kavanaugh’s time in the White House. Yet, the GOP-controlled Senate appears to be pushing for September hearings.

Celeste Pewter has a script just for Judiciary Committee members:

I am asking [Cruz/Cornyn] to commit to a thorough vetting and questioning of Judge Kavanaugh’s qualifications for the Supreme Court.

We need to know where Judge Kavanaugh stands on key legal rulings, his conduct and ethics in office, and his employment track record. This includes a full recounting of his documents while serving as staff secretary for President Bush White and all documents available from the National Archives.

With that in mind, I’m calling on [Cruz/Cornyn] to ensure that the National Archive has until October to finish their full review of documents—as requested. We cannot and should not proceed without a full picture of Kavanaugh’s background.

How your voices are making a difference

  • In Austin, local activists and lawmakers pressured ICE to drop a request to detain a woman jailed two weeks ago for assault while she was experiencing a mental heath crisis
  • A record number of states are introducing reform measures to combat partisan gerrymandering
  • A federal judge ruled that Donny must fully restore DACA

Read more >>

Events

  • Thursday, Aug. 9, 8:30-9:30 AM, 1105 N IH35 – Indivisible Rosedale Huddle brings us banner drops Thursdays this August. This week: make Ted sweat his constituents! (Facebook event)
  • Saturday, Aug. 11, 11AM-11PM, Fiesta Gardens (festival) & Texas State Capitol > Congress Ave (parade) – Happy Pride, Austinites! Free parade portion runs 8-11 PM, starting at the Capitol, continuing down Congress onto 4th (Facebook event) More events at the Austin Pride website and the Chronicle’s Gay Place roundup.
  • Save the Date: Monday, Aug. 27, 9AM-2PM, Robert B. Rowling Hall, 300 W Martin Luther King Jr Blvd – Texas Disability Issues Forum (TDIF) brings together members of the Texas disability community, major candidates for statewide office, and disability advocates (Event link at REV UP!)

Countdown: 91 Days to November 6

BLUE WAVEWith only thirteen weeks between now and midterms, every hour of effort, every weekend of work counts. This week, add your drop to the growing #BlueWave:

Ask three people you know or meet if they are registered to vote at their current address. If they’re not sure, help them check using the Texas Secretary of State’s tool here. If they aren’t registered, help them change that by reaching out to us at ask@indivisibleaustin.com, and we’ll get them in touch with an Indivisible VDR. If they or you have any questions about voter registration, please use the same address!

Texas is overwhelmingly a non-voting state. Changing that reality starts by changing our shared culture—which also means talking (early and often!) about voting.

Congress Critter of the Week: Rep. Pete Sessions

Pete SessionsPete Sessions isn’t one of ours, but he is a representative from Texas, and he did hit peak Republican this week.

In attempting to explain his virtuous view of how to handle divorce proceedings, Pete managed to blame, for her own murder, a woman killed by her husband. He also blamed the divorce court judge—because they were unfair to the wealthy, presumably white, man.

His own words explain why he’s this weeks Critter better than we can:

“A big-time guy in Highland Park, who went and killed his wife, just gunned her down. And that was because the judge was unfair, and the woman was unfair. And she demanded something, and he was out. And it was frustration.” 

Running against Pete Sessions in TX-32 is Colin Allred, who was just endorsed by President Obama.

Your Moment of Zen

It could’ve happened in Austin, but didn’t: 118 goats freely roamed a Boise, ID, neighborhood on Friday after escaping the enclosures of the local We Rent Goats business.

Funding the Fight

Taco plate from Taco DeliThey say an army marches on its belly. That’s true for an army of block walking canvassers, phone bankers, and letter writers too.

Be a part of the movement by making a contribution today! Your gift of $25 or $50 could provide the coffee and breakfast tacos that get us and America over the line.

Tremendous lack of leadership | How your voices are making a difference

8/6/18 “Tremendous lack of leadership”

Wilbur Ross’s claim that the census question added to the 2020 census was demanded by the DoJ fell apart this week with the discovery of emails where he flat-out states the idea was his own, months before the DoJ’s request.

Manafort’s longtime bookkeeper testified Manafort lied and cooked the books as his foreign money started to dry up. One of his accountants testified that she agreed upon request to falsify his tax records.

In an interview with the Washington Post, a member of Donny’s now defunct (and always ridiculous) voter fraud commission, the Maine secretary of state, reveals that the commission found zero evidence of widespread voter fraud, stating that the commissions purpose appeared to be to attempt to substantiate Donald’s baseless claims of millions of fraudulent voters in the 2016 election, where he lost the popular vote to Clinton by nearly 3 million (and overall by millions more).

The Newseum, a federally funded museum celebrating a free press and the first amendment, was offering “Fake News” shirts—tilloutcry from journalists made them pull the items and issue an apology.

Bob Woodward of Watergate-busting fame has a new book coming out about life inside the Very Stable Genius’s White House.

Russia

Here’s the big news: new evidence shows that indicted Russian spy Maria Butina socialized with a Donald associate working on little Don’s campaign in the weeks leading up to the 2016 election.

From WTF Just Happened Today, little Donny’s own national security team officially stated that Russia is behind “pervasive” and “ongoing” attempts to interfere in upcoming U.S. elections. “The threat is real. It is continuing,” said Dan Coats, Director of National Intelligence. Hours later, Trump defended his “great meeting with Putin,” saying “the Russian hoax” is getting in the way of improved relations with the world’s second-ranked nuclear power.

federal judge ruled against yet another attempt to curtail the Mueller investigation, this one by an associate of Roger Stone, sizzling in the hot seat as he prepares to be called to testify.

Republicans Against the Law

federal judge ruled that Donny must fully restore DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or the Dreamers program), the third such mandate by a district court.

A federal judge has granted a temporary nationwide injunction on the sharing of 3-D gun plans. Earlier in the week plans were also temporarily blocked for internet users in PA after the threat of a lawsuit against the Texas company providing them by the Philadelphia attorney general.

A federal judge has ordered Donny and the GOP administration to locate the missing parents of more than 650 children still separated from their families despite another judge’s deadline for reunification last week.

A lawsuit filed by the cities of Baltimore, Chicago, Cincinnati and Columbus alleges that Donald’s White House violated the U.S. Constitution with its deliberate undermining of the Affordable Care Act.

Thirty-six people whose visas have been denied or held in limbo have brought a lawsuit against the GOP administration—specifically naming Homeland Security head Kristjen Nelson and secretary of state Mike Pompeo—asking the administration to explain its alleged waiver process under Donald’s travel ban in the face of what seems to be denial and foot dragging in making exceptions for those in compelling circumstances.

A federal judge has denied Donny’s attempt to silence Michael Avenatti, Stephanie Clifford’s (Stormy Daniels) lawyer.

A federal Court of Appeals ruled that the mentally deranged dotard’s executive order to withhold federal funding from sanctuary cities was unconstitutional.

A group of Democratic senators has asked the Pentagon to investigate reports that Don John offered tours of Air Force One to members of his golf clubs—a breach of federal ethics laws.

Republicans Reconsidering

Defense against conservative attacks on higher education came from an unlikely source this week—the Koch brothers network likened conservative smear campaigns and attacks on progressive professors to McCarthyism, and the Koch network recently granted $3.25 million to the Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University, which has been suing Trump to prevent him from blocking Twitter followers and trying to force the Justice Department to disclose secret legal memoranda.

The Kochs are actually quite vexed with Donald’s administration, and its “divisiveness” and “tremendous lack of leadership” is too much even for the Koch brothers, who are distancing themselves from the GOP and Donny and those who ally with him. Like the embarrassing impulse-control challenged two-year-old he is, Donald is lashing back, calling the Kochs “a total joke.”

Social and Civil Rights Advances

An appallingly sexist comment by a veteran judge yielded a rebuke from the U.S. Court of Appeals.

In the absence of action at the federal level or from the Supreme Court, a record number of states are introducing reform measures to combat partisan gerrymandering, creating independent commissions—not the governor or legislature—to draw up district voting maps that are equitable and fair, and an accurate representation of the state’s population.

In the face of White House attacks on unions, a group of workers exercised the power of organization. This hilarious video of a mass worker walkout at a UPS plant when employees claimed their supervisor made racist comments went viral—and clearly delighted the man who shot it.

In Austin, federal ICE officials dropped a request to detain a woman jailed two weeks ago for assault while she experiencing a mental heath crisis

Karma

Stating that it’s unable to procure general-liability insurance in connection with media liability insurance, the NRA says that it’s in deep financial jeopardy and may be “unable to exist.”

An activist published 11K messages between WikiLeaks and its supporters, showing that WikiLeaks wanted to help defeat Hillary Clinton and help the GOP.

Melania continues openly trolling her husband, this time issuing a public statement in support of LeBron James immediately after Donny tweeted an insult at the basketball star.

Your Feel-good Stories of the Week

An activist in Colorado found a striking way to draw attention to the Republican administration’s cozying up to our greatest geopolitical foe.

The Texas Trib asked readers for donations to raise $35K to hire reporters to cover border issues, particularly family separations; they got an outpouring of $60K, plus another $15K match from a charitable foundation.

The state of New Jersey is dedicating millions of dollars to help fill the gaps in community reporting left by the belt-tightening in the journalism field.

Remember Randall, of “honey badger don’t care” fame? He won a lawsuit defending his trademark of the phrase from his hilarious viral video. (And if you live in an egg and somehow missed his ingenious original video, please enjoy it.)

This happened Monday, and life was good.

Gallery: Ezra and Leah at a #100DaysOut Phone Bank in Austin

On Sunday, Indivisible Austin held a phone bank. With about 50 of our closest friends—you!—we  called prospective voters to make sure they know why this election is so important, and to get them engaged NOW so they’re ready to go to the polls as soon as early voting starts. Indivisible groups held over 150 events nationwide, kicking off the 100 days until Election Day in November.

Take Action: Call Cornyn & Cruz before Tuesday’s Senate Judiciary Hearing on Family Separation

Take Action

Call Cornyn & Cruz before Tuesday’s Senate Judiciary Hearing on Family Separation

The Senate Judiciary Committee, which includes both John Cornyn and Ted Cruz, meets on Tuesday morning. The topic is “Oversight of Immigration Enforcement and Family Reunification Efforts.” Despite the court-ordered deadline to reunite families, more than 700 children remain in detention due to Trump’s zero tolerance policy, and more than 400 have had their parents deported with no apparent plan to reunite them. The hearing will be simulcast online.

Ted Cruz

Thanks to the show of public outrage, we’ve already accomplished a lot with our rallies, calls, and emails. This is another thing we can do to help. Script and bird-dogging courtesy of Indivisible East Bay:

Hi, my name is [name] and I’m a constituent from [zip code]. I’m calling to ask the Senator to thoroughly examine the immigration officials at the Judiciary Committee hearing on Tuesday, July 31. Please find out how this cruel family separation happened and how these families will be reunited. I have been so worried and appalled by our government’s treatment of these young children and their parents. The children might be damaged for life. Please make these immigration agencies take responsibility and fix the situation. Please also ensure that this is not the only hearing on the subject of family separation.

More ways to help:

Read: Immigrant Youth Shelters: “If You’re a Predator, It’s a Gold Mine” (ProPublica) >>

New RAICES fundraiser: Help reunify children separated from their families at the border by donating to pay for airfare, hotel, and personal items for children and parents released from detention.

While you’re chatting with Cruz and Cornyn: Demand the release of Brett Kavanaugh’s White House records

Also in their capacity as Judiciary Committee members, Senators Cruz and Cornyn signed off on a records request for Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh with one glaring omission: records from Kavanaugh’s three years as staff secretary in the George W. Bush White House.

It is vital that these documents be made public so we know Kavanaugh’s involvement in some of the Bush Administration’s most controversial policies, including torture and privacy rollbacks.

Read Sen. Patrick Leahy’s statement >>

Help fill the funding gap in statewide races

Activists like you have successfully pressured your Members of Congress, and some progressive candidates are even outraising GOP incumbents. That is great news! Keep giving to candidates you believe in, and also remember the statewide races that aren’t getting as much attention or money.

For example:

These races are vitally important, too, and with less than 100 days until Election Day, now is the time to chip in.

How your voices are making a difference

  • Support for Roe v. Wade has reached a new high among Americans
  • Children led a sit-in at the Senate building to protest the separation of immigrant families
  • Youth voter registration is up 41 percent in Florida since Parkland.

Read more >>

Events

Repeal and Replace Ted Cruz banner drop, Thur. Aug. 2, 8:30 – 9:30 am

Monthly VDR training – Sat. Aug. 4 (multiple times)

Big Bake Sale for Border Families, Sat. Aug. 4, 10 am – 2 pm

Action Spotlight: #100DaysOut Phone Bank with Ezra & Leah

Members of Indivisible Austin's board with Ezra and Leah

Indivisible co-executive directors Leah Greenberg and Ezra Levin with members of the board of Indivisible Austin.

Phone bank in AustinOn Sunday, Indivisible Austin held a phone bank. With about 50 of our closest friends—you!—we  called prospective voters to make sure they know why this election is so important, and to get them engaged NOW so they’re ready to go to the polls as soon as early voting starts. Indivisible groups held over 150 events nationwide, kicking off the 100 days until Election Day in November. Watch this space for news of future phone banks and actions.

See photos >>

 

Congress Critter of the Week: Rep. Bill Flores (TX-17)

Bill Flores as the Riddler (GIF)Q: When is a town hall not a town hall?

A: When Rep. Bill Flores has complete control over who can talk and for how long, without the audience being able to express themselves collectively or ever having to face them in person.

No, it’s not one of the Riddler’s clues. It’s what Bill Flores is making all his constituents deal with, rather than meeting his bosses in person.

The occasional audio town hall is a useful tool, only as a supplemental way to keep your constituents informed, Bill. You need to hear from them in person. Why wouldn’t you want to meet them? 

Book Club: It’s Time to Fight Dirty

It's Time to Fight Dirty

This month the Indivisible Austin Book Club read It’s Time to Fight Dirty, by David Faris. After years of losing ground in Congress and state legislatures, and facing the possibility of an extremist Supreme Court, remedies are needed to bring our democratic systems back into balance.

Read more >>

Your Moment of Zen

Tiffany Day shared this gem of a video earlier this year, but we find it refreshing in the middle of a busy, hot summer:

Funding the Fight

Be a Texas Voter Cake

The #100DaysOut phone bank with Ezra and Leah was just the beginning. For the next 99 days, Indivisible Austin will be working with you at phone banks, door to door, in homes and neighborhoods, and in countless other ways.

We can make November happen, together, but we need you to be a part of it, both as a volunteer and through your contributions.

Be a part of our (and your) movement! Make a gift today!

“The misogyny, the racism, and the unethical and immoral behavior” | How your voices are making a difference

7/30/18 I cannot condone the misogyny, the racism, and the unethical and immoral behavior of the current administration.”

Russia

The Russia investigation is clearly heating way up—the latest subpoena from Mueller’s team was for the Trump Organization finance chief, summoned to testify before a grand jury in the criminal probe of Michael Cohen, Donny’s longtime personal lawyer, after his name was mentioned in several of the Cohen recordings. Of which federal investigators seized more than 100…so stay tuned for more.

Recently revealed documents show that Natalia Veselnitskaya, the Russian lawyer present at the infamous Trump Tower meeting, has much closer ties to Russian senior government officials than previously admitted.

And former attorney Michael Cohen says he’s willing to testify that Donald knew about and approved in advance the Trump Tower meeting with Veselnitskaya—and what it was for.

Carter Page acknowledged working as “an informal adviser to the staff of the Kremlin” in a 2013 letter—the reason the FBI was surveilling him during the 2016 campaign. Even Richard Burr (Rep, NC) says there were “sound reasons” for the surveillance, despite Donny and his GOP toadies attempting without any factual backup to imply that the surveillance was spurious and politically motivated.

Recent records reveal that Rep Dana Roherbacker (R, CA), he who bleats loudly against the Russian investigation, dined with Maria Buttina, the Russian woman currently being held for spying in the U.S. on behalf of Russia.

Republicans Reconsidering

Republican senators Lindsay Graham and Marco Rubio want to introduce sanctions to warn Putin (and his puppet Donald) about meddling in our upcoming elections. Even mouth-hemorrhaging Trey Gowdy added his voice to those opposing Donald’s invitation of the former-KGB head of our greatest geopolitical foe into the White House (an invitation Donald walked back after Vlad didn’t take him up on it).

Senator Ben Sasse (R, NV) denounced Donald’s government subsidy for farmers due to hardships from the tariffs Donald himself imposed, calling the subsidy “gold crutches.” A surprising number of other GOP lawmakers also added their objections to the subsidy Donald announced to counter the hit farmers are taking due to his trade wars. Senator Ron Johnson (R. WI) called it a “Soviet type of economy”; Sen John Thune of SD—the #3 GOP leader, said, “Taxpayers are going to be asked to initial checks to farmers in lieu of having a trade policy that actually opens and expands more markets.” Sen Pat Toomey (R, PA) calls it a “bailout” that “compounds bad policy with more bad policy. Jeff Flake called it “handouts” and Bob Corker calls the subsidies “welfare.”

Sen Bob Corker laid into Mike Pompeo for his disingenuous defense of Donald’s cozying up to Putin, the former-KGB head of our greatest geopolitical foe, and attacking our own country’s intelligence community findings.

A bipartisan bill has been introduced in the Senate that would curb Donny’s ability to unilaterally withdraw the U.S. from NATO.

The House Appropriations Committee backed a bipartisan measure that would essentially nullify Donald and Jeff Sessions’s attempt to disallow asylum for those immigrants seeking to flee gang or domestic violence.

A representative in the House has introduced a carbon-tax bill hoping to reignite discussion about climate change, protecting the environment, and investing in alternative energy in the U.S.—and it’s a Republican!

After spending her entire adult life as a conservative, an Oregon Republican commissioner has changed party to become a Democrat. “I have not changed but the Republican party clearly has,” she says. “I cannot condone the misogyny, the racism, and the unethical and immoral behavior of the current administration.”

Republicans Against the Law

federal judge ruled against Don John, who had hoped to stop a lawsuit alleging he violates the Constitution’s emoluments clause by taking money from foreign governments through his businesses. The lawsuit will proceed.

A federal judge freed the pizza deliveryman detained by ICE while doing his job.

federal judge will allow a lawsuit brought by more than two dozen states, cities, and other groups against the federal government for its inclusion of a discriminatory citizenship questions proposed for the 2020 census—one of six similar lawsuits—to proceed.

The city of Birmingham, AL, won a victory over the state when a federal judge in an appeal over whether the city had the right to raise minimum wages when the state tried to bar the increase overturned the previous court’s ruling that allowed the state to overrule the wage hike.

New York financial regulators have opened an investigation into Signature Bank, a small institution that financed projects for the Trump and Kushner families, to determine whether the loans violated laws intended to prevent predatory behavior.

Republican Corruption

“What you are seeing and what you are reading is not what’s happening.” This jaw-droppingly Orwellian quote was actuallyuttered by the mentally deranged dotard in a speech Tuesday. Well, here’s what’s actually happening:

Don’s inept administration released documents by mistake that they had hoped to suppress and keep out of the public eye: Evidence that protected public lands boost tourism and spur archaeological discoveries was hidden from the public so the administration could shrink national monuments, tailoring the surveys instead to emphasize the value of logging, ranching, and energy development from exploiting these lands if they were released from federal protection. Comments the department’s Freedom of Information Act officers made in the documents show they sought to keep some of the references out of public view because they were “revealing [the] strategy” behind the review.

Donald used a taxpayer-funded trip to openly campaign for Republican candidates.

A federal lawsuit against Michigan for partisan gerrymandering has unearthed emails of state Republicans gleefully plotting how to divide the state’s districts to concentrate “Dem garbage” and packing African-American voters into a metropolitan Detroit district. The recently discovered emails will no doubt lend momentum to a proposed constitutional amendment to end gerrymandering, set to be on the ballot in Michigan in November.

Just like Avenatti said, there are more tapes Donny’s former attorney Cohen made of conversations with his erstwhile client—at least 100 more. The most recently released features Don discussing proposed payments toPlayboy model Karen McDougal to silence her about their affair…the one he denied any knowledge of.

GA state representative Jason Spencer—he of the screamed N-word and bared buttocks in service of stopping terrorists, courtesy of Sacha Barron Cohen—has resigned.

The GOP Kansas senator who accompanied Don John to Russia on little Don’s pilgrimage to his Soviet dark lord faced an angry crowd of constituents in a Kansas town when he got back, demanding to know why he and the GOP aren’t standing up to the mentally deranged dotard. “Why do you even believe you had any moral compass speaking to (Russian Foreign Affairs Minister) Sergey Lavrov,” one man asked, “because you do not speak against this authoritarian president?”

A whistleblower inside the Columbus police department has released emails from the department showing thatStormy Daniels’s recent arrest in D.C. was carefully preplanned days in advance.

Social and Civil Rights Advances

Support for Roe v. Wade has reached a new high among Americans—including 52 percent of Republicans. Seventy-one percent of Americans overall believe the ruling should be upheld; only 23 percent believe it should be overturned.

Supergirl cast the first transgender superhero on television—the same transgender activist behind a landmark case that set a precedent for allowing trans people to use the restroom of their choice.

Children led a sit-in at the Senate building to protest the GOP administration’s separation of immigrant familiesand their treatment of the children.

The co-owner of the New York Giants stated he won’t punish players for kneeling during the national anthem, and chastised Donald: “He has no understanding why they take a knee or why they’re protesting.”

Nike will raise salaries for 7,000 employees after an internal review of claims of workplace misconduct and discrimination against women led to the ouster of several of the top brass.

Environmental groups brought a “citizen suit” against a Houston-area refinery under the Clean Air Act, alleging years of excessive air pollution—the refinery has agreed to a multimillion-dollar settlement as penalties and remediation in their factories of the issues.

The new acting EPA chief reversed the final policy act by Scott Pruitt that would have allowed “super-polluting” trucks on the nation’s roads.

Karma

Someone untied one of Betsy De Vos’s yachts and set it adrift on Lake Erie.

Someone else took a pickax to Donald’s star on Hollywood Boulevard. The perpetrator was bailed out by—and this is actually for real—the guy who did the same thing to the same star last year.

Ivanka shut down her clothing line—ostensibly to devote time to her White House duties (of which she should have none, officially, since SHE IS NOT AN OFFICIAL GOVERNMENT EMPLOYEE OR APPOINTEE), but more likely because of recent struggles with marketing as her products are increasingly boycotted and dropped from stores. That or Donald is preparing her to take over from him eventually in the banana republic he mistakenly believes America to be.

Here’s a fun article about what may be coming down the pike for the very stable genius.

Your Feel-good Stories of the Week

Swedish student stopped the deportation of an Afghan asylum seeker by refusing to sit down on the flight on which the man was being deported.

Donny’s support among women continues to decline. (Who could have imagined…?)

Youth voter registration is up 41 percent in Florida since Parkland.

Melania Trump informed the world, as well as presumably her husband, that she will watch any TV channel she damned well wishes—after Donny had a big baby meltdown tantrum at seeing a picture of Melania on Air Force One with a TV tuned to CNN.

Trump’s job approval rating is below 40 percent in three politically important Midwest states: Michigan (36%), Wisconsin (36%), and Minnesota (38%). (And probably abysmally low with his wife, as well.)

Book Club: It’s Time to Fight Dirty

It's Time to Fight Dirty

This month the Indivisible Austin Book Club read It’s Time to Fight Dirty, by David Faris. After years of losing ground in Congress and state legislatures, and facing the possibility of an extremist Supreme Court, remedies are needed to bring our democratic systems back into balance.

This book has three prescriptives that need to be implemented the day after the new Democratic Congress is seated.

  • Add Washington, D.C. and Puerto Rico as states, adding 4 Democratic Senators immediately
  • Expand the Supreme Court by adding 4 Justices
  • Pass a new Voting Rights Act based entirely on the contents of the 15th Amendment that would;
    1. Eliminate Voter IDs
    2. Create automatic registration for citizens
    3. Create a National Holiday for elections
    4. Allow everyone to vote
    5. Impose harsh terms for any state that violated the law

None of the above items require a change to the Constitution.

OVERVIEW

The Republican Party has successfully managed to dilute the power of Democrats in Congress over the last 40 years. They have also dramatically tilted the Supreme Court to the point where they could begin reversing 40-year-old decisions. So much for stare decisis. Lastly, they have gone to immeasurable lengths to reduce the voting ability of the U.S. citizen to a 50/50 situation, where only a tiny number of seats can swing either way. The answer is to create a brand new voting process and to add more parties. If two-thirds of the populace generally leans to the left, that needs to be reflected in Congress.

DETAILS

Washington, D.C. and Puerto Rico came close to becoming states between 2010 and 2012, but President Obama had Congress focused almost exclusively on the Affordable Care Act, so it didn’t happen. The proposal has been on the table for decades and it’s only Republicans who have prevented their admission.

The Constitution says nothing about the makeup of the Court, so there is nothing an “originalist” can quote in support of the current size of the Court. An immediate expansion by four justices over a high amount of invective from the Republicans would alleviate immediately the disaster of McConnell’s refusal to consider Merrick Garland after the death of Antonin Scalia.

An additional ruling would require that no justice could be active on the Court for more than 18 years and that the sitting President, of either party, could nominate a new justice every two years. The inactive justices become Emeritus, retaining their titles. Should a current justice leave the Court, then the last member active before becoming Emeritus would take that seat until it was filled.

If you think these changes to the Court seem even slightly radical, be aware that the Republicans already have plans to go farther in freezing or otherwise controlling the Court to meet their ideals, eliminating most social programs and further satisfying the oligarchy that currently rules the country.

There is currently a new Voting Rights Act making its way through Congress called the Fair Representation Act, introduced by Rep. Don Beyer in June of 2017. The basic idea is to eliminate our “winner take all” system and replace it with a process that would allow for multiple parties in the House. The British Parliament has a lower house with 650 members and a total population that’s a fraction of ours. Our House only has 435 members. And the ratios of representation by state are staggeringly out of proportion. Rectifying this would mean the “Freedom Caucus” could no longer bring the House to its knees.

So, while there’s a lot to be done, much of the ground work is in place. Existing legal writers on the Democratic side could start whipping these proposed laws into shape to be put before the deliberative bodies not months, but days after the turn over.


The next selection of the Indivisible Austin Book Club is Give Us the Ballot, by Ari Berman. To learn more about the book club, please email bookclub@indivisibleaustin.com.

Take Action: Rebuke Trump for the Debacle in Helsinki

Take Action

Tell your reps that Trump must be rebuked for his comments in Helsinki

But first, here’s Lyin’ Cornyn:

“Nobody disputes the fact that they were unsuccessful in changing a single vote or affecting the outcome.”
—Sen. John Cornyn, speaking on the Senate floor after Trump’s abysmal, traitorous performance in Helsinki.

It’s a lie. And a common lie among Republicans unwilling to accept an uncomfortable truth: that Russian information warfare might very well have swung the election to Trump.

Because it seems like a year ago, read the Washington Post’s chronology of the Helsinki debacle to refresh your memory. Then, call your reps!

Talking Points
(with a hat tip to Celeste Pewter)

  • Censure the President for his remarks.
  • We need new, bipartisan sanctions—stronger than the previous ones, and actually enforced.
  • Get a transcript of what was said privately between Trump and Putin.
  • Support legislation to protect the Mueller investigation.
  • The translator and the U.S. national security team that accompanied Trump to Helsinki must testify on Capitol Hill.
  • Condemn any suggestion of, or hesitation over, Russia interrogating members of our intelligence community.
  • A second meeting with Putin—at the White House, no less—sends exactly the wrong message. It’s galling.

Bonus script for Texas Secretary of State Rolando Pablos:

secretary@sos.texas.gov
(512) 463-5555

“Given the additional indictments concerning attempts to hack into our election system, and with November midterms coming up, I would like to know how Secretary Pablos is protecting the integrity of elections in Texas.”

Tell John Cornyn and Ted Cruz that Brett Kavanaugh’s White House records must be released

During Elena Kagan’s nomination process, 11,000 of her emails and 160,000 documents from her tenure in the Clinton White House were released to the public. So why would Brett Kavanaugh—who served in the George W. Bush White House—be treated any differently? That is the question for Senators Cornyn and Cruz, both of whom serve on the Senate Judiciary Committee. Call and ask them. We have a right to know.

Read more on why we must stop Kavanaugh from becoming Trump’s next Supreme Court Justice >>

Our government continues to separate families at the border and putting toddlers on trial—demand a stop to it!

The Russia news overshadowed the ongoing border crisis last week. It’s important to remain focused on the cruelty that the Trump administration continues to inflict on blameless children and their frequently desperate parents. July 26th is the court-ordered deadline to reunite most families. The Texas Tribune has expanded its coverage at the border. Get caught up—and then call your reps.

“The Trump administration has summoned at least 70 infants to immigration court for their own deportation proceedings since Oct. 1, according to Justice Department data provided to Kaiser Health News.”

—Texas Tribune, “Immigrant infants too young to talk called into court to defend themselves”

“On the brink of being released from detention and reunited with children separated from them sometimes months ago, migrant parents are held at a South Texas facility in a sort of limbo — not free to leave, but without access to phones or commissary accounts that regular detainees get.”

—Texas Tribune, “Incommunicado in South Texas: Migrant parents await reunification in seclusion

Also read:

TribTalk: “Americans — and American values — support immigration and compromise” by our friend Tiffany Yates Martin >>

ACLU: “Inside the Family Separation Legal Drama” >>

Indivisible Austin: Tired of calling your reps? Write a letter to the editor! >>

How your voices are making a difference

  • Will Hurd penned a startlingly frank op-ed
  • A federal judge temporarily halted deportations of families
  • The big angry Trump baby is coming to America

Read more >>

Featured Event

#BeATexasVoter Phone Bank with Indivisible founders and co-executive directors Leah Greenberg and Ezra Levin

Ezra Levin and Leah GreenbergSunday, Jul. 29, 1-3 PM, Austin History Center Come join Indivisible Austin and our special guests, Indivisible founders and co-executive directors Leah Greenberg and Ezra Levin, at our #BeATexasVoter kickoff phone bank! We’ll be just about 100 days out from the November midterms, and we’re celebrating by calling prospective voters to make sure they know why this election is so important, and to get them engaged NOW so they’re ready to go to the polls as soon as early voting starts. There will be snacks and swag for all phone bankers!

YOU WILL NEED TO BRING:

  • a laptop or tablet
  • your cellphone
  • earbuds

If you’ve never participated in a phone bank, it’s easy! We’ll teach you!

(IATX event info; Facebook event)

Also:

  • Thursday, Jul. 26, 11 AM-12:30 PM, NeWorlDeli – IATX Women’s Coffee Meetup (Facebook event)

Congress Critter

From Republican strategist John Weaver:

Moment of Zen

It’s record-breakingly hot in Austin this week. Elsewhere, Buttercup the bulldog enjoyed a kiddie pool of ice:

Funding the Fight

You made it! You’re all the way at the bottom of the email, but if you look back at the top you’ll see something very important: Help Lead Indivisible Austin’s GOTV Work.

We have to knock on doors, call, text, mail, organize and build community throughout Central Texas to do our part to bring some accountability and decency to DC and to our own capitol here in Austin.

You know how important this is. Be a part of the solution by supporting our efforts NOW so we can bring change in November.