One of the most insidious lies currently being spread is that America is broke, too poor to afford police, teachers, and firefighters, and Medicare, Social Security and other important programs. Van Jones explains in detail just how much of a lie that is and fills us in on what actually is "broke" in America.
On Independence Day, as we light fireworks, flip hamburgers on the grill, and celebrate our country's two centuries of freedom, it's worth remembering that the vast majority of Americans that have enriched our history don't descend directly from the colonists who threw off the yoke of British rule. Most of them arrived poor from far off lands and mistrusted by their new American neighbors, hoping and working for a better life than the one they left behind.And so it is today for immigrants in the state of Georgia, where the state legislature passed a blatantly anti-immigrant bill that gives the state sweeping powers to stop and detain citizens and non-citizens alike if they cannot prove their citizenship when stopped by police, and to jail people for aiding undocumented workers in any way.But immigrants and allies in Georgia are fighting back. On Friday, Hispanic businesses and workers participated in a "Day without Immigrants" by closing their doors and not coming into work. The aim was to show Georgia by their absence what a major part of the economic and social life immigrants have become in the state.And on Saturday, between eight and fourteen thousand immigrants and their allies in the human rights, faith and labor communities rallied around the Georgia state capitol. Families decried the fact that they would be broken up, legal residents who "looked foreign" protested that they might be detained if they didn't carry documentation at all times, and civil rights activists from older generations supported their brothers and sisters against attacks against all people of color.
"You are my brothers and my sisters," Reverend Tim McDonald told the crowd. "Some years ago, they told people like me we couldn't vote. We did what you are doing today. We are going to send a message to the powers that be ... that when the people get united, there is no government that can stop them. Don't let them turn you around."The events of this weekend are part of a kickoff for a Human Rights Summer in Georgia. Immigration activists have organized a boycott/buycott in the state, where immigrants and allies refuse to buy from stores that cooperate with the new law. Instead, they will only buy from stores that signal their unwillingness to cooperate with law enforcement that harasses customers and employees over their suspected immigration status.Immigrants have also pointed out that they are being demonized while the real problems in the state are continually being ignored. The foreclosure crisis and continued job crisis haven't been addressed with any serious efforts, while the legislature found plenty of time to crank out a harsh bill that attacks immigrants and anyone who has regular contact with them, potentially even nuns driving a van full of immigrants to Mass.
This is perhaps the most beautiful part of Van Jones' presentation from our launch last week. Jones talks about the moral argument for our movement, that we want a better America for everyone, even our opponents. We don't want anyone to live in a neighborhood without police or fire protection. Nor do we want anyone's children to go to school in a classroom with 45 kids, 6 books, and no chalk. We remember that the pledge doesn't stop with the word "liberty"; it ends with the words "and justice for all."Watch it now!
As we previously noted, We Are Ohio collected enough signatures to put a measure on the November ballot to repeal SB5, a draconian bill passed by Gov. John Kasich to strip workers of their rights. The number needed to put the repeal on the ballot was around 230,000 verified signatures. We Are Ohio tried to get almost twice that number, just to make sure that they cleared the bar if some signatures ended up being disqualified. The early estimates were that they beat that goal by a mile, with about 700,000.The final number? 1,298,301.That's over one million signatures in excess of the quarter million signature goal, collected from all 88 counties in Ohio, delivered in 1,502 boxes in an 18 wheeler accompanied in a parade of 6,000 marching to the state capitol. Anyway you slice those numbers, it spells a major victory in the fight against rightwing efforts to erode the foundations of the middle class. The next step will be a referendum on November 8.Rachel Maddow had an excellent segment on this very topic last night:
Here's another highlight from Van Jones' presentation at our launch. In the clip, Van talks about the Three Pillars necessary for the growth and sustenance of a thriving American middle class.Watch it now!
We've gotten a lot of requests for a transcript of Van Jones' presentation last Thursday. We've got it right here, and we've added some bonus features.First, we added in citations to back up the points that he made. For example, where Van talked about how we're not broke, we were robbed, and somebody has got our money, there are helpful links to a Wall Street Journal article on $144 billion in Wall Street bonuses during an abysmal economy, and a Congressional Research Service report on the $1.3 trillion cost of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
We've also got Van's charts on rising income inequality in America. Even though American workers have been increasingly productive over the last few decades, incomes have remained stagnant for most Americans while they've more than tripled for the top 1%, a result of the conscious effort of corporations and the superrich to take control of our government at all levels.
Read this, bookmark it, and pass it on to your friends!
A lot of you have been asking us, "What's the next step? How can we get started rebuilding the American Dream?" Luckily, you don't have to travel far or wait long. On July 16 and 17, we're asking all Dreamers to meet face to face in house meetings in your very own neighborhoods.These house meetings will serve as a place to create and hone a powerful agenda to rebuild the American Dream. We'll talk to each other about what the American Dream means to us, and about what should be done to take it back. And just as importantly, we will commit to each other to stand together to make it happen.We're pleased to announce that because of your enthusiastic response to Van Jones' livestreamed presentation, we already have
905 907 meetings scheduled across the country! To find the closest one to you, please click the link and enter your ZIP code. If there are no house meetings scheduled in your area, or if they are already full, no worries! We'll help you host your own meeting, giving you all the materials you'll need to lead the meeting. If you don't think your home is a great place to meet, you can find a coffee shop, community center, church, or other public space.What's most important for all of us to remember is that we are in this together. Van Jones can give us a spark, but it's in our hands to keep the movement going forward. The next step is July 16 and 17.
Via SEIU, we have a live broadcast from Columbus, OH, where We Are Ohio will deliver a petition of over 700,000 signatures for repeal of SB5, which stripped public employees of collective bargaining power. That's far above the 230,000 threshold necessary to trigger a ballot initiative for repeal. If validated, and it's a virtual lock that it will, the ballot initiative puts the bill on ice until a November referendum, which at last glance heavily favored repeal.Live TV : Ustream
No massive oil spill is currently lapping against the Gulf shore, but Americans still are unhappy about expanded offshore drilling. In coastal regions around the country, thousands rallied this weekend against offshore drilling and for a shift to clean, renewable energy.Begun as a grassroots response to proposals to expand offshore drilling around Florida, the massive BP oil spill last summer accelerated interest in Hands Across the Sand. The sponsor list grew to include traditional environmental groups like the Sierra Club, new climate change opponents like 1Sky and 350.org, and recreational groups like the Surfrider Foundation, and thousands rallied on beaches last summer.This year, despite the absence of a major oil spill from the headlines, thousands of concerned citizens came to the beaches, holding hands in a human wall to show their outrage over the US government's continued wasteful spending on a dirty form of energy production that is ruining some of America's great treasures.In California, Louisiana, Florida, the Carolinas, Texas, and Virginia, crowds gathered on beaches up and down the coast holding hands. Rather than relying on a short term "solution" - one attendant pointed out that all the oil off the coast of California might fuel our country for only thirteen years - that only exposes our fragile coastal ecosystems and valuable fisheries to further risk, attendees argued that we can shift to wind and solar energy, forms of energy production that will never swamp American coastlines, or poison fish and shrimp if an accident occurred.[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="500" caption="Hundreds of Louisianans join hands along the waterfront in New Orleans. Photo used under a Creative Commons license from Louisiana Sierra Club. "][/caption]