Senators are listening

So the “Take Away My Health Care” bill died. You could almost hear the big collective sigh of relief across America.

No, wait!! It came back to life! EEEEK!!

OK whew! It died again!

Oh Noooo! It’s stirring… it’s… alive!

It’s like that B-rated horror flick where the zombie just won’t die. The latest iteration, “Repeal and Deal With It Later,” rips healthcare away from 32 million people. After 7+ years of attacking the Affordable Care Act, what Republicans need for their better healthcare plan is… more time.

David Leonhardt of the NYTimes has a perspective that has given me hope throughout this ordeal. He explains that once the country commits to a more decent safety net, it becomes an accepted part of society. Poverty, disease and misfortune that had previously been accepted as normal then became rejected as cruel.

In this article today in Vox, The health care resistance is working. Just ask a few Republican senators, Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) said Senate Republicans have privately admitted to him that the resistance’s pressure is making a difference:

At the same time, we must not forget that politicians are willing to take away our health care. We must not let our guard down, as we know what we got last time we said “that can’t happen.”

I want to pass on something else I learned recently that gave me a bit of relief. You may have heard Republicans are using a process called reconciliation for healthcare. They also intend to use the same process for their next project, tax reform. The reconciliation process allows a bill to pass with fewer votes (in this Senate, without Democrat votes). However, it comes with some limitations. Senate rules only allow one reconciliation bill at a time. So, if Republicans want to do tax reform via reconciliation, they have to first either pass or abandon their healthcare reconciliation bill. And if they don’t successfully gut healthcare, they don’t have the new revenue they need to fund their dream list of deep tax cuts.

Stand Up SF actions:

Trump can cancel parts of Obamacare funding. This would be devastating to millions of people who would lose access to affordable health coverage and it would send ACA markets into chaos, risking insurance even for those who don’t require financial assistance. Sign Senator Harris’s petition to keep funding Obamacare.

Trump wants to reverse Obama’s decision to protect the Atlantic and Arctic oceans from risky offshore drilling. Submit a comment to The Department of the Interior and tell them: Our oceans should be protected, not polluted. Keep America’s coastline off limits to drilling.

Actions with other groups:

Move-On is working to train community volunteers to mobilize together quickly in the event of a crisis that threatens our life or liberty. Sign up.

Tue 7/25: How to Help Your Friends When They’re Harassed Online: Bystander Intervention Digital Training by HeartMob. Sign up.

You’re the best.

Things are not looking good for the Trump administration right now. Between the ongoing discoveries of their collusion with Russia to influence the election, the delayed vote on TrumpCare, and Trump’s approval ratings the lowest in history, they are not able to get much done. Today’s biggest news is that TrumpCare is just 1 GOP defection away from defeat.

All of this is because of YOU. You yelled about the need for the Russian investigation. You demanded a “no” vote on TrumpCare and sent in your personal stories in support of the ACA. And you have told your representatives to block this administration’s agenda, to keep Americans safe from Trump’s excesses — and those of his cronies. Across the country, people just like you are making the same demands, and it’s working.

Paul, Phyllis, and Laura, Stand Up SF leaders, hold signs that say 'We Rock!', 'It's working - thank you!' and 'You're the Best!''THANK YOU!

You should know:
Tomorrow, California lawmakers will vote on a bill to extend California’s most important climate law. AB 398 is meant to be an extention of the state’s Cap and Trade legislation, but environmental activists are very divided on whether our representatives should vote yea or nay. We in leadership are not prepared to tell you how to act on this one, but if the issue is important to you, we urge you to do some reading, make your decision, and call Assemblymembers Ting and Chiu with your request.

Meanwhile, there’s still plenty to do to protect our community and our country.

This week’s Stand Up SF actions:

  • Stop mass deportations: SB 54, The California Values Act, prevents state and local funds from being used for deportations. Call Assemblymembers Ting and Chiu and ask them to vote yes on SB 54. You can say “I urge you to support SB 54, the California Values Act, which protects the safety of all Californians by ensuring that state and local resources are not used to fuel mass deportations and separate California families.”
  • Get face-to-face with Kamala Harris: Senator Harris has not yet held a town hall in the Bay Area! Call her office and ask that she hold a San Francisco town hall during the August recess. (script)
  • Fix our housing crisis: Senator Weiner’s SB 35, up for a vote this week, streamlines the development of new housing, including affordable housing. Don’t let it get held up by unworkable and unnecessary amendments! Call State Assemblymembers Ting and Chiu and tell them to vote for SB 35. You can say “I’m concerned about the number of homeless and displaced people in my community. Please vote for SB 35 to ensure that cities comply with existing requirements to build more housing, and more affordable housing.”

Actions with other groups

  • Tue 7/18: #KillTheBill! Join local Indivisible groups in the Bay Area for a Die-In at Senator Feinstein’s office to protest TrumpCare. This is part of a nationwide Indivisible campaign that is sure to get news coverage, so please sign up if you can make it!
  • Tue 7/18: Join our friends at Sister District for their CA-12 Mission Hub meeting and help flip Virginia blue! RSVP

Learning opportunity

Wed 7/19: Learn more about how you can protect the free and open Internet. Join FreePress.net and other activists on a strategy call. Sign up.

A Good News Radar is a wonderful thing

We had a lively and productive meeting with folks from Congresswoman Pelosi’s office today. A big thanks to all the Stand Up SF members who made the time to come and participate. Dan Bernal, Pelosi’s Chief of Staff SF, and Alex Lazar, Sr Congressional Aide SF were warm and welcoming as ever. As I contrast this to all the people with GOP Senators who hid from them over the July break, I realize how lucky we are to have members of congress who value our input. And, what an amazing thing… when you listen to your constituents and do your best to do the  right thing for them, it seems there is no need to hide.

On the way out of our meeting, someone mentioned how hard it is to keep up with the sheer volume of news, and how depressing it can be. I hear this often. As many of us at Stand Up SF have learned, one good way to fight the blues is to take action. As one of our members said recently, “It is what keeps me sane.”

Another helpful antidote is to make sure to have your radar up for good news. Here are some items my Good News Radar caught recently.

  • (12 July) A coalition of US states, cities and businesses pledged to meet the Paris Climate Accord emission  reduction targets. They have effectively said, “we’ll do it without Trump.” Called America’s Pledge, the coalition already includes 10 states, 227 cities and counties, and about 1,600 businesses.
  • (8 July) 19 of the 20 world leaders at the Group of 20 summit in July showed their embrace of the Paris Climate Accord and adopted a plan to move forward collectively on climate change without the US. (NYT)
  • (7 July) France announced it is going to ban the sale of any car that uses petrol or diesel fuel by 2040, and become carbon neutral by 2050. The announcement was part of France’s renewed commitment to the Paris climate deal. (BBC)
  • (7 July) Morning Joe enjoyed its highest-rated show ever the day after Trump blasted the hosts with a series of juvenile tweets. The ratings topped Fox & Friends in the same time slot. (Forbes)
  • And speaking of Morning Joe, its co-host Joe Scarborough, a former Republican Congressman, stated publicly that the GOP no longer represents his values and that he is quitting the party. (It is not good news that the GOP seems to have lost their values. We need two (at least) major parties with integrity. The good news is that people are speaking out that something important is broken.) (Time)
  • (6 July) 18 states and the District of Columbia filed suit against Education Secretary Betsy DeVos and the Education dept over Devos’s decision to roll back rules designed to help students who have been defrauded by their colleges. (BuzzFeed)
  • (5 July) The backlash to Trump’s request for sensitive voter information was fast and furious. So many choice quotes to choose from… here are a few:
    • “Delaware will not be a party to this disingenuous and inappropriate campaign against one of the nation’s foundational institutions.” – Delaware Secretary of State
    • “I find this request for the personal information of millions of Marylanders repugnant; it appears designed only to intimidate voters and to indulge President Trump’s fantasy that he won the popular vote.” – MD Attorney General
    • “…the president has repeatedly spread the lie that three to five million illegal votes were cast in the last election. Kentucky will not aid a commission that is at best a waste of taxpayer money and at worst an attempt to legitimize voter suppression efforts across the country.” – Kentucky Secretary of State
    • “This entire commission is based on the specious and false notion that there was widespread voter fraud last November. At best this commission was set up as a pretext to validate Donald Trump’s alternative election facts, and at worst is a tool to commit large-scale voter suppression.” – Governor of Virginia
    • “NY refuses to perpetuate the myth voter fraud played a role in our election. We will not comply with this request.” – NY Gov. Andrew Cuomo
  • (3 July) A federal appeals court ruled that the EPA cannot change the effective date of a rule that restricts methane emissions from new oil and gas wells. The court said the EPA does not have authority to block the rule, and that the agency’s decision was “unreasonable,” “arbitrary” and “capricious.” Since methane is more potent than carbon dioxide, this is good news for our planet.
  • (28 June) At least four leading law firms have refused to represent Trump. “The guy won’t pay and he won’t listen,” said one lawyer. (The Week)
  • (26 June) A women’s NBA basketball team, the Seattle Storm, announced a partnership with Planned Parenthood and held a fundraiser before a game. (The Seattle Times)
  • (26 June) According to a monthly tracking poll by the Kaiser Family Foundation, 51% of Americans now have favorable views of the Affordable Care Act, the first time it topped 50% in 79 polls over 7 years. It seems one way to educate people on Obamacare is to threaten to take it away. Who knew?
  • (26 June) More than a dozen organizations representing health care providers signed an open letter to Mitch McConnell, published in his hometown paper, The Courier-Journal of Louisville, telling him to “STOP the mad rush to pass this bill” and instead seek advice from health care experts.“You said you have a ‘responsibility to act,’” the letter said. “We believe you have a duty to act responsibly. Kentuckians deserve better.”

Join our next Stand Up SF Monthly Meeting!
Sat July 22, 2-4pm Noe Valley Library (Sign up!)

Stand Up SF actions:

Monday July 17th is the deadline to submit a comment to the FCC about why Net Neutrality is important to  you. This ACLU form is much easier to use than the FCC site, and they do a great job explaining why net neutrality is important

Actions with other groups:

Sat July 15, Civic Center: Join Democracy Action for a phone bank to educate constituents in Nevada about their healthcare, and to support Democratic candidates in state races in Virginia. Sign up.

Sun July 16, Dogpatch: Join Democracy Action for a phone bank to support Democratic candidates in state races in Virginia. Sign up.

Saying yes to progressive wins

Resistance means saying “no” a lot. But, as people who value social, racial, economic, and environmental justice, it feels more in character for us to say “yes”. There’s no better way to say yes to our values, and earn big wins for progressive causes, than by acting locally. California’s laws become models for the whole nation, so when you take action on state-level or even city-level issues, you’re not just helping your neighbors: you’re showing the whole country how it’s done. So today, we’re going to focus on local action.

I want to talk to you about a cause that’s dear to my heart: reforming our criminal justice system, which disproportionately targets and penalizes people of color and the poor. Today there’s local action we can take on the bail system, and it comes from the ACLU of Northern California.

The money bail system lets private corporations cash in on human suffering. Access to wealth is what currently determines who gets out of jail. People who can’t afford to pay bail stay locked up while they await trial; others desperately plead guilty or pay a bail bonds agency for pre-trial release. Costly bail bonds agreements put people on the hook for payments even if the district attorney dismisses the case or a court finds the defendant not guilty of the crime. Poor people have to sit idly in jail for weeks, months, and sometimes years while their cases move forward.

In May, our California lawmakers voted on legislation to overhaul our state’s money bail system. CA Senate Bill 10 and Assembly Bill 42 would make sure that California stops locking people up simply because they cannot afford to pay bail. Both bills prioritize services to help people make their court appearances and curb the state’s overreliance on money bail. The Senate approved SB 10 with bipartisan support, but AB 42 stalled in the Assembly. See below for your request to Assemblymembers.

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The July recess is winding up tomorrow, leaving only two more weeks for Republicans to pass TrumpCare before experts say it’ll be dead in the water. This fight is still not over, but the biggest battles will be waged in districts with Republican Senators who remain undecided or who plan to vote no. Paul has reached out to our friends at Indivisible Charleston, asking how we can support them during this last critical push. Meanwhile, if you want to be inspired, check out #SitInSaveLives on Twitter for photos, videos, and reports from the protests last week, many by seniors and people with disabilities.

Our next meeting — and happy hour!
Saturday, July 22
2:00pm – 4:00pm
Noe Valley Public Library, with drinks to follow at Phyllis’ house nearby
REGISTER NOW

This week’s Stand Up SF actions

  • Fix unfair bail laws: Call Assemblymembers David Chiu and Phil Ting and say: “Thank you for supporting bail reform, standing up for justice and California families, and voting YES on AB 42, the California Money Bail Reform Act of 2017. Please also vote YES on SB 10!”
  • Take action for campaign finance reform: AB 1089 sets limits on campaign contributions. Call Assemblymember Phil Ting and say: “Hi, I live in California and I am a constituent. I am calling to ask you to vote YES on AB 1089, to close loopholes in California’s campaign finance laws and protect us from unlimited special interest spending.” Then call Assemblymember Chiu and thank him for sponsoring the bill.
  • Ban toxic chemicals: This week, Scott Pruitt – the anti-science head of Environmental Protection Agency – has ignored his own agency’s recommendations and reversed the ban on chlorpyrifos, the toxic agricultural pesticide known to damage the nervous systems of infants and children. Call Governor Brown and tell him to ban the toxic pesticide chlorpyrifos.

Actions with other groups

  • Tue 7/11: Join ACLU People Power at a phone bank to support CA SB54, the California Values Act, to protect immigrants from mass deportation. Sign up.
  • Tue 7/11, 6pm: Kick ICE out of Oakland! Join ACLU People Power at an action at Oakland’s City Hall. Raise your voice for immigrants. RSVP now.
  • Wed 7/12, 6-9pm: Cervezas for Civics fundraiser for Generation Citizen – an organization that empowers young people to become engaged and effective citizens. RSVP for drinks and lively conversation.

“Obamacare was the best thing to happen to me”

The July recess has been tough on Republican senators. CNN reports today: Recess isn’t helping McConnell’s hunt for 50 votes. It started with this reception at the airport as they left for recess:

In Pennsylvania, demonstrators gathered outside of Sen. Pat Toomey’s office, lying on the sidewalk holding signs in the shape of tombstones.

In Maine, Sen. Susan Collins said healthcare was THE issue at her 4th of July parade. “I heard, over and over again, encouragement for my stand against the current version of the Senate and House healthcare bills. People were thanking me, over and over again. ‘Thank you, Susan!’ ‘Stay strong, Susan!’ ”

At a town hall meeting in Louisiana, Sen. Bill Cassidy had his planned topic derailed by people voicing their angst over healthcare. Several people described the GOP proposal as an effort to give large tax breaks to the wealthy at the expense of poor people’s coverage.

On their Facebook page, the Indiana Republican party asked for Obamacare “horror stories,” such as “losing a doctor that you liked” or “having your premiums increased.” (Losing a doctor that you liked is a “horror story” compared to having your health insurance ripped away? Really? And it was Obamacare that caused premiums to increase? Really?) At any rate, over 10,000 people have given input so far, a massive number of them stories like these:

While this news is encouraging, we’ve heard stories of backroom deals to appease holdout GOP Senators on selective issues like opioid addiction, and that a new CBO report has been ordered. We will continue to keep a watchful eye on healthcare and do everything we can to protect it.

In the meantime, while we wait for more news on the GOP “Take Away Our Healthcare” bill, we’re proposing some actions (below) on other important issues.

Stand Up SF actions:

Following Trump’s executive order to open the Atlantic to offshore drilling, the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) is set to permit oil companies to begin seismic airgun blasting to find new oil wells. This involves deafening blasts every 10-12 seconds for months on end, and devastates marine life. Department of the Interior environmental studies estimate that seismic proposals now under review would cause more than 31 million instances of harm to marine mammals in the Gulf and 13.5 million harmful interactions with marine mammals in the Atlantic, killing or injuring 138,000 dolphins and whales. Call and ask Congresswoman Pelosi to 1. Join the 103 House reps who sent Interior Secretary Zinke a letter asking him to halt the blasting, and 2. To support the Atlantic Seismic Airgun Protection Act in the House.

Call and ask Senators Feinstein and Harris to support the same bill in the Senate.

Make a public comment on it by July 21, telling the National Marine Fisheries Service that our oceans are already showing the stress of climate change, and it doesn’t make sense to harm whales, dolphins and other ocean wildlife in order to drill for more oil we can’t afford to burn. Deny any new seismic permits.

Actions with other groups:

Mon July 10, 6:30-8:30 in the Mission: SURJ (Showing Up for Racial Justice) General Meeting. SURJ works to dismantle racism within ourselves, in our communities, and in our city. Sign up here.

Thanks for all you do.