Horrors on the Southern Border

Immigration Asylum in Mexico - source BDNEWS.com

Until recently, our government allowed people from other countries to wait in the U.S. while their requests for asylum were being processed and decided. Now we make them wait on the other side of our border. Thousands of people are indefinitely stranded in places like Matamoros, Mexico, where I just returned from.

Neither our government nor the Mexican government is doing much of anything for these people. They live in small camping tents. They rely upon volunteers to bring them food. Clean water and toilets are scarce, and medical care is minimal. There is no work and no school. Our government’s policy is to let these people languish and suffer, in hopes that they will go away and that others will learn of their misery and decide not to try to come to the U.S.

Deliberately depriving people of food, sanitation, and other essentials of a decent life was the policy the Nazis followed in the 1930s and 40s in the ghettos and concentration camps. Over time during the Nazi era, what started as makeshift detention became large-scale incarceration. Dehumanization was institutionalized.

Today, child asylum seekers are no longer being detained in the U.S. in large tents the way they were at Tornillo, Texas, and Homestead, Florida. Our government has been building a series of permanent camps where children will be held. I visited an old WalMart in Brownsville, Texas where up to 1,500 immigrant children are being imprisoned. I also stopped by a warehouse in Raymondville, Texas, that is being refitted to hold 500 kids. A friend just stood outside a new prison that is under construction in El Paso, Texas, that will hold more than 500 kids. Other facilities are in the pipeline.

It took a while for the Nazis to develop their system of concentration camps. Dachau, established in 1933, became the model for later camps. What I saw in Mexico and Texas reminded me of something terrible. Our incarceration of immigrants is progressing along a terrifying trajectory. We are normalizing child abuse. We are perfecting systems that traumatize people. We are teaching the people who work at these prisons that it is OK to go along with and make money from deliberate cruelty.

I am disturbed by what I saw. But it is good that I saw it.

We have much to do.

Lee Goodman
Peaceful Communities, Inc.

“We’ve Gotta Start Canvassing.”

I’m Aftyn, an organizer for Indivisible, and I want to talk to you about what happened in the South this week, and how. I organize in two of the reddest states in the country: Kentucky and Tennessee.

Election night 2018 was rough. As we watched the Blue Wave sweep across the country, it became clear that it had missed us: we elected the same (and more) Trump-loving Republicans up and down the ballot.

It would have been easy for Indivisibles to give up, throw up their hands and say “we’ll never win.” But that’s not what happened. Instead, groups across the South mobilized and built out a MASSIVE year-round voter contact program statewide for 2019. 

I’m not just talking about in the cities: one of our group leaders in Appalachia was out knocking doors three days a week, every week, dogged in her attempt to identify every undecided voter in her county. In Boyle County, Kentucky (where Trump won with 62.1% of the vote), Indivisible Danville wrote postcards, registered voters, and canvassed for months prior to the election: Bevin only won by 4 votes.

All of that work was a testament to the fierce tenacity of group leaders who showed up day in and day out, no matter the literal weather or the political climate. 

And in the end? Well, the results were mixed. We won the top of the ticket, and that’s incredible. Kicking Bevin out of the Governor’s mansion is huge. These results are proof that when on-the-ground grassroots effort meets an unpopular and unprincipled incumbent (sounds like another Kentucky official we know), well, anything can happen. Down ballot though, we didn’t win a single race. After all the work, we still came up short.

But there’s another way we won: Off-year elections like this are used as a testing ground for messaging and tactics ahead of presidential years. Like 2018, Republicans again prioritized a pro-Trump, anti-immigrant, and anti-choice message. The result we earned at the top of the ballot in Kentucky and throughout Virginia show us that theirs is a losing approach.

On Tuesday night, I was at the big election watch party with two Indivisible group leaders. Late in the night, after we were sure we’d won in the Governor’s race and lost the others, one of them turned to me with a wicked little gleam in her eye. “Well,” she said. “We’ve gotta start canvassing.” 

Yep.

One of the questions I get asked most often as an organizer in Kentucky is how on earth are we going to defeat Mitch McConnell. And honestly, the answer is the same as it would be to defeat any regressive incumbent.

We’ve gotta start canvassing. We’ve gotta start calling, and texting, and talking to voters, everywhere.

If we’re going to ditch Mitch McConnell — or win ANY race — it’s going to take everyone and their second cousin. We’ve all gotta start canvassing. 

A few years can’t undo centuries of racism, classism and sexism. It will take more years of dedicated, hyperlocal efforts to make progress, which is why we need to start now. We need people on the ground knocking doors year-round. We need to mobilize the cities and make incremental (or major!) gains in the suburbs and rural areas. We need to pick a nominee who can inspire voters. We need donors who can fund phonebanking and canvassing tools. And we need to start organizing now.

The up-ballot wins in Kentucky this week should be an inspiration. And the down-ballot losses should be a call to arms. It’s time to roll up our sleeves and get back to work.

In solidarity,

Aftyn

Indivisible Senior Regional Organizer, Kentucky and Tennessee

PS — I also want to give a major shout out to the groups and sister organizations in Virginia and in other states across the country where we had major wins last week! You’ll be hearing more from our teams in other states soon, but I couldn’t let this email go by without giving them huge claps. 😀

Indivisible Action supports progressive organizing and advocacy year round, country-wide. To learn more about our work or join the movement, go to indivisible.org, or to support us with a donation, click here.

Campaign Contacts

Vote Buttons

Campaign Contacts

Thanks to the North Shore Dems for sharing this contact list for presidential campaigns. Get in touch if you want to get involved.

Warren Campaign

  • Join Win with Warren North Suburbs on Facebook, and/or contact the co-leads, Caryn Fliegler (Caryn.fliegler@gmail.com) and Catherine Caporusso (catherineacaporusso@gmail.com). This group does not criticize other candidates, but is focused on Elizabeth.
  • 11/13, 7 pm: Why Warren? In Conversation with Daniel Biss.
  • The local Warren team will begin meeting biweekly at the Northbrook Public Library on Sundays, 1:15-3:15 pm, starting on 10/20. Catherine and Caryn will get you all set up with anything you need.

Biden Campaign

Harris Campaign

The 2020 Democratic Pledge

In the end, we have to pull together. Or we will be pulled apart. As the 2020 elections begin to take shape, the following set of guidelines, contributed by Tobin Fraley, are useful to insure the majority of Americans pull together to get us over the finish line so we may begin to repair the carnage that is now our American democracy.

You are encourage to download and share this 2020 Democratic Pledge with others.

Democracy Summer Camp July Meeting Summary

NSI 2019.7.18 General Meeting 7:00PM @ Deerfield Public Library

We had a nice turnout at this meeting with many active regulars as well as some new friends who are ready to get involved. Themed “Democracy Summer Camp,” we enjoyed our discussion around a “campfire.”

People shared their motivations and favorite actions: Showing up for rallies & marches; calling and writing to elected officials about their opinions on upcoming legislation; filling out online witness slips; writing Get-Out-The-Vote postcards; making GOTV calls (some to their neighbors, some even to help with out-of-state campaigns); door-to-door canvassing–some for specific candidates, others to encourage people to get out and vote. One attendee marched in a couple of parades in support of US Representatives Sean Casten & Lauren Underwood, and emphasized the importance that has in showing the public the support our candidates have.   All agreed that it’s important that we each get involved and take actions that are productive and that inspire us.

Sonny Cohen reviewed some of the ideas that were raised in the last meeting that were brought to life since then, such as the Lights for Liberty vigil on July 12 in Highland Park, and more voter registrar training opportunities sponsored by Tenth Dems.

Some ideas for future activity were also brought up, including: GOTV and voter registration drives on local college & university campuses; getting the message to college students who are home for the summer to register for absentee voting; supporting out-of area campaigns in important races, such as Amy McGrath, running in KY to “Ditch Mitch [McConnell]”. We also learned that there are many volunteer opportunities with Tenth Dems which is based in Highland Park.

And don’t forget to watch the upcoming Democratic Presidential Debates July 30 & 31!

Sonny  also reviewed upcoming events that are featured on the North Shore Indivisible Calendar.

Some of those upcoming events include…

July 21 – Voter Registrar Training in Waukegan

July 23 – Moraine Township Democrats Dinner Meeting

July 24 – Mueller Book Club – Live Testimony Watch Party & Post-Testimony Analysis @ Online

July 29 – Rep. Sean Casten (IL-6) will be holding a Meet & Greet in Highland Park

Aug. 6 – Voter Registrar Training in Libertyville

Aug. 20 – Voter Registrar Training in Waukegan

Aug. 27 – North Shore Indivisible Meeting @ Deerfield Public Library: Focus on Election Security featuring Rose Colacino from Illinois Indivisible’s Election Security & Integrity Voting Rights Team.

Read all the details on the North Shore Indivisible Calendar.

Also, please utilize these resources for finding important actions to take: Americans of Conscience Checklist; 5 Calls; Small Deeds Done.

Trump Regime – Fiscal & Economic Issues

NWSOFA

It’s still the economy, stupid!

In a world where facts matter (they do), the Fiscal & Economic Issues group of NWSOFA Indivisible* produces an objective analysis of our state and Federal economic status. There is a lot to digest. Here is a summary. First the chart. Then the talking points:

1.Job creation was faster in Obama’s last 29 months (6.4 million) than Trump’s first 29 (5.6 million)

2.The total number of persons with jobs (151 million) has been setting records since May 2014

3.The unemployment rate has been improving for all ethnic groups since peaking at 10% in October 2009. It regained the pre-crisis (Dec 2007) level of 5.0% in September 2015 and was 3.7% in June ‘19

4.The 2018 budget deficit of about $800 billion was $300 billion higher (60%) than the $500 billion forecast when Trump was inaugurated, due to Trump’s tax cuts and additional spending. Revenue was nearly $300 billion below forecast.

5.The 2018-2027 debt addition forecast (sum of annual deficits) increased from $9.4 trillion assuming the continuation of Obama policy to $13.0 trillion under Trump, +$3.6 trillion or 38%

6.The number of persons without health insurance increased by 1.9 million or 7% from Dec 2016 to Dec 2018. The first increase in the number of uninsured since 2010 happened in 2017, due significantly to Trump’s ACA sabotage efforts.

7.Real GDP growth of 2.9% for the full year 2018 was the same level as 2015

8.Quarterly GDP growth was 3.1% in Q1 2019. Quarterly real GDP growth has been 3% or greater in 16 quarters since Q1 2009; 12 times under Obama and 4 times under Trump

9.The trade deficit has increased from 2.7% GDP in 2016 to 3.0% GDP in 2018. Studies indicate the tariffs have increased the price of imports and thus are paid by consumers, like a tax

10.Real median household income set an all-time record in 2016 at about $60,000 and continued to increase in 2017 to about $61,000; the 2018 data is pending.

11.Real wage growth was faster in 2015-2016 under Obama than 2017-2018 under Trump

12.Inflation was lower in 2015-2016 under Obama than 2017-2018 under Trump

13.Mortgage rates were lower in 2015-2016 under Obama than 2017-2018 under Trump

14.The number of persons on food stamps (SNAP program) peaked in 2013 at 47.6 million and has fallen each year since, to 40.3 million in 2018

View the entire powerpoint report here.

*Thanks to North West Suburban – Obama for America  (NWSOFA) Indivisible and Karl Faulstich for assembling this analysis EVERY MONTH.

 

Democratic Presidential Candidate Watch Party Workbook

“You can’t tell the players without a scorecard.”

Down load this Indivisible Debate Watch Guide

As we head into 2020, we have a historically strong and diverse Democratic field. We have candidates who are unafraid to take bold positions on unrigging our democracy, creating a people-first immigration policy, and leaning into ambitious plans to address climate change. And we have candidates from a wide range of backgrounds: current US Senators, mayors of large and small cities, and two former members of the Obama administration. For the first time in our country’s history, we have a field that includes Latino, Black, white and AAPI candidates; gay and straight candidates; and working class candidates who are rejecting corporate PAC money.

We know the stakes are high. But we think concerns about “electability” are a self-fulfilling prophecy. So we’re focused on engaging with 2020 candidates on their own merits: finding candidates who have a good plan on the issues that matter to us, and are able to tell a compelling story about their candidacy and motivate the broad multiracial coalition we need to build to win in 2020.

If you’re hosting a debate watch party, print one or two copies of the Candidates section for the whole party. This section is a reference, if you find yourself wondering who some of the candidates on the stage are.

Print individual copies of the workbook section for everyone at your party to fill out. Print double-sided if you can!

IRS Must Investigate NRA’s Tax-Exempt Status | Opinion

Brad Schneider’s op-ed in Newsweek on why he’s calling for the IRS to investigate the National Rifle Association.
By Brad Schneider, U.S Representative, IL-10

If you can believe it, when the National Rifle Association was founded as a not-for-profit organization almost 150 years ago, the stated goal of its founder was to “promote and encourage rifle shooting on a scientific basis.” While it may have adhered to that mission in the past, today’s NRA has strayed far from its founding principles.

The modern NRA advocates for reckless policies that can allow guns to fall into dangerous hands. Its spokespeople verbally attack student survivors of mass shootings. And, according to recent news reports, its executives appear to have improperly directed the donations from its rank-and-file members to line their own pockets.

For a 501(c)(4) nonprofit, such blatant self-dealing would constitute more than just bad press. It would be a violation of the state and federal laws that govern tax-exempt organizations. If the allegations are true, American taxpayers should not be forced to effectively subsidize the efforts of the NRA’s leadership to bilk their members to enrich themselves.

That is why I am calling for the IRS to investigate the NRA’s tax-exempt status.

The alleged pattern of self-dealing, deceptive billing and skirting of transparency reaches the highest levels of the NRA.

One glaring example: The NRA paid more than $40 million in 2017 to its longtime public relations firm Ackerman McQueen with scant documentation on how that money has been spent. There do, however, appear to be many close personal and financial links between Ackerman McQueen and top NRA executives. In addition, leaked internal documents suggest that hundreds of thousands of dollars were funneled from the firm to pay for NRA Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre’s luxury clothing and lavish travel. LaPierre, already one of the highest-paid nonprofit executives in the nation, has also reportedly secured what amounts to a lifetime contract, assuring he is paid for consulting services and personal appearances after his employment.

Former NRA President Oliver North has also allegedly massively benefited from the NRA’s relationship with Ackerman McQueen. Days after accepting the uncompensated role of board president at the NRA, he reportedly signed a contract with the firm worth roughly $1 million a year.

Despite lavish spending at the leadership level, just one-10th of the NRA’s money is directed toward activities that many members would recognize as nonprofit activity, such as gun safety, training and education, according to The New Yorker.

These examples raise a sea of red flags. The former head of the tax-exempt enterprises division within the IRS, Marc Owens, told The New Yorker that the NRA’s records present “one of the broadest arrays of likely transgressions that I’ve ever seen” and suggested they could lead to the revocation of the NRA’s tax-exempt status.

Fortunately, elected officials are catching on to the NRA’s alleged problematic behavior. Earlier this month, three members of the Senate Committee on Finance—Democratic Senators Ron Wyden of Oregon, Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island and Robert Menendez of New Jersey—sent letters to LaPierre, North and Ackerman McQueen to turn over “letters, third-party audits, memos and other materials as they look into allegations of self-dealing and examine the NRA’s nonprofit status,” The Washington Post reported. The New York attorney general’s office has also begun an investigation into the NRA’s tax-exempt status and issued subpoenas.

When Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration J. Russell George came before the Ways and Means Committee, I posed the self-dealing allegations against the NRA to him as hypotheticals. He said the arrangements were “concerning” and “would raise questions,” and he agreed they would warrant further investigation. I also sent a letter to IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig requesting he investigate these allegations and determine whether the NRA’s tax-exempt status has been abused.

Fundamentally, we are a nation of laws, which must be as applicable to powerful organizations such as the NRA as they are to you, me or any other citizen. In the face of this overwhelming evidence, the IRS must fully and fairly investigate the NRA, and if it finds the organization has operated outside the bounds of a nonprofit charitable organization, it should revoke the group’s nonprofit status.