Contact Federal Government Officials
1. After substantial pressure and multiple indictments, the Trump administration is finally obeying a congressional mandate to sanction Russia for its interference with the 2016 election (https://www.cnn.com/2018/03/15/politics/russia-sanctions-trump-yevgeniy-viktorovich-prigozhin/index.html). And this came on a day when the FBI and Homeland Security warned the Russians are hacking our electric grid, nuclear plants and water infrastructure, too. If we’re going to stop them from attacking our democracy this fall, it can’t require a massive push to force the White House to act against them. A bipartisan group of MoCs in the House and Senate have introduced the Defending Elections from Threats by Establishing Red Lines (“DETER”) Act (S. 2313 and H.R. 4884), which would automatically impose severe sanctions on Russia if Putin meddles in our elections. Let’s call our MoCs and demand action on this legislation immediately.
2. Rumors about a Cabinet reshuffle are flying, and it’s difficult to tell which of them have merit yet. But the possibility that Attorney General Jeff Sessions is in danger of being removed is worth attention, as it could lead to the firing of special counsel Robert Mueller (https://www.aol.com/article/news/2018/03/14/trump-may-fire-jeff-sessions-potentially-jeopardizing-muellers-russia-probe/23385998/). We need to make sure we’re ready. A) Let’s ask for Congress to protect this investigation. We can call our reps and tell them we want immediate action on proposed bipartisan bills to protect the special counsel, like the Graham-Booker Special Counsel Independence Protection Act or the Tillis-Coons Special Counsel Integrity Act, a commitment to vote to override any vetoes of these bills by Trump if they’re passed, and a public statement they will not confirm any new attorney general without securing the safety of the inquiry. B) Let’s join the activists across the country who are preparing for what happens next if Trump does fire Mueller. We can text the word “Mueller” to the number 94502 to get alerts from Public Citizen just in case, and we can find and pledge to attend “Nobody Is Above The Law” rallies that will take place across the country in immediate response to a firing.
3. After seeing the photos and video clips of school walkouts all over the country yesterday, it is disturbing to see just how easy it is to get a gun in the US compared to other nation (https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2018/03/02/world/international-gun-laws.html). Let's use the info in this article to contact our MoCs and state legislators asking for stronger laws to keep guns out of the wrong hands.
4. Gun manufacturers have a special law that shields them from being held liable for the human toll their products take. It is named The Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act, passed in 2005, and is unique in the strength of its protections, which surpass even those granted to the makers of medical devices and small aircraft (https://theconversation.com/why-do-gun-makers-get-special-economic-protection-93241). Let’s tell Congress that it made a mistake when it handed gunmakers this suit of legal armor, and urge them to correct that error.
5. Public comments are being solicited about new HHS rules that would allow physicians and health care workers to opt out of procedures that conflict with their religious teachings (https://www.politico.com/story/2018/01/16/conscience-abortion-transgender-patients-health-care-289542). This will have a significant impact on women’s and LGBTQ rights, which are already not fully protected by the current system. In fact, according to the Center for American Progress, 29% of transgender people reported that “a doctor or other health care provider refused to see them because of their actual or perceived gender identity.” We can submit our public comments here (DUE MARCH 27). We should also ask our MoCs to support The Equality Act, H.R.2282/S. 1006, which amends the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to protect against discrimination on the basis of sex, sexual orientation, and gender identity.
6. While the Democratic senators who helped pass S. 2155 (the Bank Lobbyist Act) argue that it will not roll back Dodd-Frank and will help protect smaller banks in our communities, they have strategically not addressed the provision in the bill which eliminates the requirement for banks to identify and report discriminatory lending practices (http://wapo.st/2Drt37r; http://lat.ms/2GuOGXE). If our senator helped pass S. 2155, Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief, and Consumer Protection Act, let's be sure to give them a call and tell them that they cannot argue that their votes protected consumers when they are allowing the proliferation of discrimination. We can find out how our senator voted here: https://www.govtrack.us/congress/votes/115-2018/s54. Then, let's call our representative in the House and tell them that we do not want them to pass the Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief, and Consumer Protection Act unless they (among other things) eliminate the discriminatory lending provision in Section 104 of the bill.
7. Democrats in in the House of Representatives have introduced the PARADE Act (HR 4980), which would prevent any taxpayer money from being spent on the White House’s request for a military parade. Considering that the cost of the parade could feed every homeless veteran in the nation for at least two weeks (http://www.newsweek.com/donald-trump-feed-homeless-veterans-cost-military-parade-839813), this parade is, as Rep. Mark Veasey (D-TX) says, “an expensive political ploy whose sole aim is to boost Trump’s approval ratings... and detracts from resources needed to provide meaningful assistance to veterans and their families.” Let’s tell our representatives in the House to support the PARADE Act and to make sure our money goes to assisting veterans, not the White House.
8. Story after story has piled up about ICE making arrests in courthouses and around sensitive locations like hospitals, churches and schools (http://www.nj.com/news/index.ssf/2018/01/ag_criticizes_ice_arrests_of_immigrants_as_kids_we.html). These arrests put people’s health and welfare and our public safety at risk and having a chilling effect on our immigrant friends and neighbors. Let’s call our members of Congress and ask them to co-sponsor the Protecting Sensitive Locations Act to offer safeguards against these acts. (We can find out if they are already co-sponsoring here.) (H/T Jen Hoffman and the Americans of Conscience Checklist)
9. In recent months, we’ve seen more and more evidence that hate crimes are significantly more common in Trump’s America, with Pew reporting there were more assaults against Muslims in the United States in 2016 than there were even after 9/11 and the Anti-Defamation League finding the highest number of anti-Semitic incidents in this country in two decades (https://www.theguardian.com/society/2018/feb/27/antisemitism-us-rises-anti-defamation-league). Yet we still might be dramatically underestimating the true scope of hate crimes in the U.S., as more than 120 federal agencies and thousands of local police departments aren’t submitting information to the national hate crimes database. This has to change. A) Let’s ask our members of Congress to request hearings on the failure to report hate crimes at the federal level so they can understand its causes, and then move forward a legislative solution. B) Let’s ask our reps to co-sponsor Rep. Don Beyer’s NOHATE Act (H.R. 1566), which would help address the local law enforcement side by giving out grants to police forces to upgrade their computer systems in exchange for departments uploading their hate crime data. C) Let’s contact our own city and county elected officials, and ask them to determine if our local law enforcement agencies are submitting their data to the hate crimes database and to determine how to change that if they aren’t.
10. The Washington Post has an audio of Trump telling people at a fundraising dinner that he made up “facts” in his discussion with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau about trade (https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2018/mar/15/donald-trump-admits-made-up-facts-justin-trudeau). Let’s share this article with Republican MoCs along with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Speaker Paul Ryan to ask them how far we are going to ride this down and how they think this will end: https://www.mcconnell.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/and https://www.speaker.gov.
Election 2018 – General
1. Now that we've flipped our first congressional seat in 2018, let’s get to work on our next chance to turn a red seat blue. ER doctor and cancer researcher Hiral Tipirneni will face off against the scandal-tarred Republican former state senator Debbie Lesko in the Arizona Eighth District on April 24th. Dr. Tipirneni wants to expand Medicare access, protect Social Security and the right to choose and block funding for Trump’s border wall. Senator Lesko is an advocate for school vouchers who opposes common sense gun control measures (https://www.cnn.com/2018/03/05/politics/arizona-democrats-house-special-election/index.html). The Tipirneni campaign has set up virtual phone banking so we can help her get out the vote from home, anywhere in the country. Let's sign up to make a difference at this link: http://hiralforcongress.com/phonebank/. (We can also send postcards for her with #PostcardsToVoters here.)
2. After Republican Maine state rep candidate Leslie Gibson attacked two Parkland shooting survivors as a “skinhead lesbian” and a “bald-faced liar,” many were horrified to find that he was running unopposed. Now Bates College graduate Eryn Gilchrist stepped up to run against him in the 57th. We can read more here about Gilchrist, who currently works for a medical device company and felt it was her civic duty to challenge Gibson, here and here. And let’s show here some support! We can donate to her campaign at this link: https://secure.actblue.com/donate/beatlesgibson. And we can follow her on Twitter to amplify her message here.
Election 2018 – By State
1. As students across the country came together for National Walkout Day, many did so in the face of threatened punishment from their teachers and schools (http://fox4kc.com/2018/03/14/park-hill-high-school-students-face-punishment-for-walkout/). Students have First Amendment rights just like every other American, and while they can be disciplined for unexcused absences they cannot be disciplined any more harshly for missing school for a political protest than they would be for any other purpose. Let’s make sure the students in our lives know their rights. The ACLU also wants to hear from those of us who believe they were not treated properly during the walkout, and we can contact them directly by filling out this form: https://action.aclu.org/webform/student-walkouts.
2. The remarkable National School Walkout took place as planned on Wednesday with approximately 3000 schools participating (https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2018/mar/14/walkout-students-gun-violence-parkland-florida). Do you know a student, parent, or teacher who participated? Let’s take the time to express our thanks to them for their efforts.
3. April 20, the anniversary of the Columbine shooting, another school-organized walkout is being planned nationwide: https://www.nationalschoolwalkout.net Let's ask all of our local schools to follow this school's lead: http://www.mlive.com/news/grand-rapids/index.ssf/2018/02/grps_to_take_part_in_national.html.
4. South Carolina Governor McMaster categorized the school walkout as “shameful” (http://thehill.com/blogs/blog-briefing-room/news/378464-south-carolina-governor-student-walkouts-are-shameful). Let’s take a moment to let him know what we find shameful: http://governor.sc.gov/Contact/Pages/default.aspx.
5. Refinery29 and Everytown for Gun Safety have joined forces to create some downloadable posters for use in upcoming rallies and marches to support gun reform efforts. Let's check them out here: https://www.refinery29.com/2018/03/193321/march-for-our-lives-school-walkout-gun-control-posters.
6. Bass Pro Shops is refusing to do the right thing and continues to sell assault weapons (https://www.denverpost.com/2018/03/13/outdoor-retailers-still-selling-assault-rifles/). Let’s keep up the pressure on them. We can check to be sure Bass Pro is not in our stock/retirement portfolios and University endowments, as well as asking our local governments to divest from Bass Pro Shops.
7. Sleeping Giants has modified their latest call to action; while it was previously thought that Steve Bannon would be a keynote speaker at the Financial Times' Future of News conference, he will instead be featured interview. The action stands though; Financial Times needs to stop giving Bannon a platform, thereby lending legitimacy to his abhorrent views. We can send our request to Financial Times' Communications Manager, Katrina Fedczuk: email@example.com or (917) 551-5093. Sleeping Giants has an e-mail template we can use as well: https://www.facebook.com/slpnggiants/posts/2013841242191848.
8. Protests against the Judge Rotenberg Center's cruel use of shock devices against individuals with disabilities continues, with members of ADAPT organizing outside of the White House and the FDA Commissioner's condo (http://nosmag.org/adapt-protests-at-white-house-to-stop-the-shocks/). These disability rights activists are in need of supplies to help sustain them throughout their protests. For those of us who are able, we can send financial support through ADAPT's GoFundMe page (https://www.gofundme.com/stoptheshock). We can also continue placing pressure on FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb to finalize a rule banning electric shock devices on disabled individuals. We can reach him via e-mail (CommissionerFDA@fda.hhs.gov), on Twitter @SGottliebFDA or by mail to Scott Gottlieb, M.D. Commissioner of Food and Drugs, U.S. Food and Drug Administration, Department of Health and Human Services, 5630 Fishers Lane, Rm. 1061 Rockville, MD 20852.
Marches/events/webinars/Tweetstorms to attend/organize
1. “On March 24, the kids and families of March for Our Lives will take to the streets of Washington DC to demand that their lives and safety become a priority and that we end this epidemic of mass school shootings. The collective voices of the March for Our Lives movement will be heard. Join us in DC or march in your own community.” Let’s find out more and how to find sibling marches around the world: https://marchforourlives.com/.
2. If we are working for change and looking for organizing trainings, we can apply to the Midwest Academy’s Organizing for Social Change. This five day workshop gives us concrete skills as well as a framework for thinking about how to do effective progressive organizing. The tools are compatible with a wide variety of organizing models, and provide a framework for critical and constructive thinking about how to achieve the goals of your particular organization, constituency, issue mix, and social and political context. As an added bonus, we will spend five days in the company of other progressive organizers from across the country, and learn from their experiences as well! We can find a sample agenda here and find information here on each of the training sites in Chicago, Southern California and Washington D.C. For more information we can contact the Coordinator of Office and Training at 312.427.2304, x303 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
1. ALL: Let’s fight voter suppression with Automatic Voter Registration, an election reform that automatically registers eligible citizens to vote unless they decline. AVR increases voter registration and voter turnout. Let’s check this list of states where AVR bills have been introduced: https://www.brennancenter.org/analysis/automatic-voter-registration. And let’s urge our state legislators to pass these bills: https://openstates.org/find_your_legislator/.
2. WY: Last week the Wyoming Game and Fish Department (WGFD) proposed hunting 24 grizzly bears this fall. That’s 24 too many. Despite strong opposition nationally and in Wyoming, the department charged forward with what it has been yearning to do since this iconic species was removed from the federal Endangered Species List last year. Let's read more at Jackson Hole News. The WGFD will make a decision on this hunt proposal May 23. It will accept comments on this proposed hunt until April 30. Let's tell them we oppose grizzly trophy hunting. Let's submit our comments online at WGFD.wyo.gov/WGFD_WebSurvey/CommentOnly.aspx or by snail mail to Wyoming Game and Fish Department, Hunting Season/Regulation Comments, 3030 Energy Lane, Casper, WY 82604.
1. “Police are still killing black people. Why isn’t it news anymore?” - https://www.washingtonpost.com/outlook/police-are-still-killing-black-people-why-isnt-it-news-anymore/2018/03/12/df004124-22ef-11e8-badd-7c9f29a55815_story.html?utm_term=.3c616538cb6c
2. "The Women's March Has a Farrakhan Problem" - https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2018/03/womens-march/555122/
3. On Tuesday, voters in Fort Lauderdale, Florida elected Dean Trantalis, the city's first openly gay mayor. Let's read about it at ABC Local10.