Contact Federal Government Officials
1. The senate confirmation hearing for Trump’s nominee for director of ICE, Ronald Vitiello, is quietly going on mostly unnoticed. Vitiello helped oversee the separation of more than 2500 migrant children from their patents at our southern border. During his hearing Thursday he confirmed that the administration is now considering another family separation policy. https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/immigration/trumps-nominee-to-lead-ice-ronald-vitiello-faces-senate-confirmation-hearing/2018/11/14/2edcb38e-e830-11e8-a939-9469f1166f9d_story.html?utm_term=.4838438313db Michelle Brané, the director of migrant rights and justice at the Women’s Refugee Commission, tweeted, “This is the guy who managed CBP, the agents that separated kids from their parents, the agents who told parents they were taking their child to give them a bath, the agents who did not keep track of who they were separating.” She added, “Not qualified to run anything.” Let’s contact our senators today and urge them to vote against Vitiello’s confirmation.
2. On Wednesday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY blocked a bipartisan effort from Senators Jeff Flake (R-AZ) and Chris Coons (D-DE) to vote on legislation that would protect the Mueller investigation. https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-11-14/mcconnell-blocks-senate-bill-protecting-mueller-investigation. McConnell is still claiming that this legislation is unnecessary, despite Trump’s recent move to install an acting Attorney General who has gone on record to oppose the investigation. https://www.cnn.com/2018/11/08/politics/kfile-matthew-whitaker-mueller-comments/index.html. Senator Flake is now saying that he will not vote to confirm any judiciary appointees until a vote is taken; however, he has been known to backtrack on his word. Let’s thank Senator Flake (202-224-4521) for bringing this bill forward and urge him to stick by his word and refuse to confirm any judiciary appointees until Mueller is protected. Stand Up America is also asking us to call 888-724-8850 to tell our senators to demand that this legislation be brought to the Senate floor for debate and a vote on its merits.
3. The Violence Against Women Act (H.R. 6545), or VAWA, was temporarily authorized through December 7th, and it's time to put pressure on our MoC to fully reauthorize this legislation (https://psmag.com/news/whats-next-for-the-violence-against-women-act). VAWA has been providing support to survivors of sexual assault and domestic violence since 1994 and has had bipartisan support throughout the years. Let's call our representatives in the House and tell them that we want to see this show of bipartisanship by passing this crucial bill.
4. Senator Jeff Flake has stated that he will block any further judicial confirmations until legislation protecting the Mueller investigation is put up for a vote, following Senate Majority Leader McConnell's refusal to allow the bill to proceed to the floor of the Senate (https://n.pr/2K3rWj4, https://bit.ly/2TaO27H). Let's contact the other members of the Senate Judiciary Committee and ask them to join Flake in delaying these confirmations until the legislation is voted on:
https://www.judiciary.senate.gov/ We can also contact Flake, who has a history of empty threats, to keep his word on this. Mailing address: Senate Russell Office Building 413 Washington, D.C. 20510 Phone: 202-224-4521 Fax: 202-228-0515
5. In what looks suspiciously like an attempt to get some—any—legislation passed before the House turnover in January, especially a sop to African American voters, our “law and order” guy, Trump, announced Wednesday that he would back a bipartisan prison reform bill, if Mitch McConnell can assure its passage in the Senate. While it has many virtues—it lowers mandatory minimum sentences, gives judges more discretion, and extends a reduction in the sentencing disparity between crack and powder cocaine passed in 2010—this bill is NOT retroactive, drastically limiting its effect: https://www.rollcall.com/news/politics/eager-lame-duck-win-trump-backs-prison-reform-bill or https://www.nytimes.com/2018/11/14/us/politics/prison-sentencing-trump.html We need to insist that our senators scrutinize carefully this bill--and all of Trump’s attempts to pretend bipartisanship during this lame duck session of Congress.
6. On Tuesday, Trump nominated conservative lawyer Neomi Rao to replace Brett Kavanaugh on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. (Source: Fortune) The Alliance for Justice (AFJ) see Rao as a "slash-and-burn" deregulator. We can read the AFJ statement here. Let's contact our own Senators to let them know we have concerns about Neomi Rao.
7. On Tuesday, the Senate Judiciary Committee confirmed the nomination of Paul Matey, Trump's nominee for a seat on the Third Circuit Court of Appeals. Matey’s hearing was held over the strong objections of his home-state senators, Cory Booker and Bob Menendez. The Alliance For Justice opposes Matey's confirmation (Source: AFJ). The Leadership Conference also opposes Matey. (Source: CivilRights.org) Let's contact our Senators to let them know we oppose the full Senate confirmation of Matey.
8. Politico reports that Trump is considering Thomas Homan, former acting director of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, to succeed Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen. The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the nation’s largest Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization, is asking us to call on our senators to speak out against the possible nomination of Homan. Let's make some noise to keep this nomination from happening. (Source: CAIR)
9. The drift-prone weed killer dicamba is destroying millions of acres of farm crops, and yet the EPA has approved its use for another two years. Documents show that the EPA granted this approval amid pressure from dicamba manufacturers, despite warnings from scientists and research.
https://www.revealnews.org/article/scientists-warned-this-weed-killer-would-destroy-crops-epa-approved-it-anyway/ Let’s tell our MoCs that it’s about time the EPA met its legal obligations to protect the environment, and that reversing this approval is as good a place as any to start.
10. The Trump administration has proposed three rule changes that target access to birth control and abortion. https://www.rollingstone.com/politics/politics-news/trump-birth-control-abortion-753010/ Let’s be on the lookout for the public comment period so that we can make our thoughts known on this issue.
1. From one of our own: Georgia voters who had to cast provisional ballots on Election Day can find out if their votes were counted by calling a new toll-free hotline! TOLL-FREE HOTLINE: 1-844-537-5375. The hotline, required by a federal judge’s order, allows voters to call the Georgia Secretary of State’s Office with questions about their provisional ballots. Voters will be told whether their ballots were counted, and if not, the reason why.
2. We’ve all seen the damage vote suppressing Secretaries of State can inflict, especially in states like Georgia. Now we have a change to fix some of that and make sure that, going forward, Georgia has a chance for fair elections, when we help John Barrow, who has a runoff election for the Georgia Secretary of State position. Barrow has just added text-banking through Hustle, so we can help get him elected in under three weeks--and start to reverse the damage Brian Kemp did. We can sign up here: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSe4o9rQq7QcBvaQ_k0c1h_bssygJiu4MB7FBZ27fb-nNy1fYQ/viewform
1. Link correction: After the stress and strain of the elections, it’s time for some rest, renewal and recharging. A) To start off, we can check out the Facebook group Revolutionary Self Care to find ways to “build sustainable wellbeing practices including physical self-care, [including] building routines, integrating more creativity and play into our days, mindfulness, meaningful connections, gratitude, setting boundaries and much more.” Each day will feature a focus/ challenge and then give us some resources to meet it: https://www.facebook.com/RevolutionarySelfCare/ B) We can also explore two seasons of the Self Care Sundays Podcast, founded in 2017 by Aditi Juneja, who states,” we firmly believe self-care is a political act, especially for people of color. We do not believe self-care is a selfish act or a luxury. In fact, we believe it is a necessary part of a healthy, daily routine to navigate competing obligations.” Aditi talks about ways to establish self-care, also interviewing a variety of speakers from underrepresented groups for more ideas and insights: https://www.selfcaresundayspodcast.com/, and C) The SwellCenter, also on Facebook, is a virtual wellness center for change agents with helpful resources and a community of care. We can check it out for ideas and actions. The Center is also looking to grow, so if we are healers, wellness practitioners, life coaches or other such professionals, we are invited to a zoom meeting to collaborate and cross-pollinate. We can send Emily Gonzalez Escalante our email address to connect. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
2. California is still burning. It’s the 7th year of drought. Climate change is real. If we want to help our fellow Americans in CA, here are two reliable options that the NYT’s has mentioned: A) American Red Cross: This nonprofit has opened shelters across the state to help evacuees. They also have an online tool that people can use to register themselves as safe so loved ones can find them, and B) California Community Foundation’s Wildfire Relief Fund: For 15 years, the foundation has offered aid to those affected by wildfires. Grants have gone to rebuilding homes, providing financial and mental health assistance and helping those affected to get medical treatment.” https://www.nytimes.com/2018/11/11/reader-center/california-fires-how-to-help.html There are also links in this article to find out if a Charity is reliable or not. Let’s do our research before we donate.
3. The ACLU's Smart Justice 50-State Blueprints are the first-ever analysis of their kind and will serve as tools for activists, advocates, and policymakers to push for transformational change to the criminal justice system. The reports are all viewable on an interactive website that allows users to visualize the reductions in jail and prison population that would result from the policy decisions that states pursue. Let's review the interactive feature here and search information on our own states. Let's continue to advocate for changes to our criminal justice system.
4. A new play, "Is This A Room", that stages the verbatim transcript of the FBI interrogation of whistleblower Reality Winner at her home on June 3, 2017, is planning a January 2019 premiere at The Kitchen in New York City. Artistic director of the 10-year-old Half Straddle theater company, Tina Satter, is requesting contributions on Kickstarter to keep this project going. We can read more and/or contribute here.
5. The Trump administration has been especially hard on Latinx Americans, and the effects show in their views of the country and their place in it (https://www.npr.org/2018/11/13/666332675/latinos-increasingly-concerned-about-their-place-in-u-s-society-survey-finds). At the same time, Latinx are awakening as a political force and, as the US' largest ethnic minority, a powerful one. Yet, largely because of gerrymandering and other voter suppression measures, their political clout doesn't match their numbers. (https://theconversation.com/latinos-can-be-an-electoral-force-in-2020-106444). Another election is coming in just 2 years, so whatever we're doing to support the work of organizations like the National Democratic Redistricting Committee (https://democraticredistricting.com/), the ACLU (https://www.aclu.org/), or even more focused groups like the League of United Latin American Citizens (https://lulac.org/), let's consider redoubling our efforts to empower voters.
6. A caravan of faith leaders and activists has traveled 1700 miles from Ann Arbor, Michigan to the detention centers in Tornillo Texas. http://www.michiganradio.org/post/caravan-travel-1700-miles-witness-border-problems If we can’t join them in Texas, we can help by donating to Annunciation House, which is providing food, clothing and other basic needs for refugees on the border.
7. Now that Democrats are going to control the House, Indivisible has published its new strategies for pushing a progressive agenda—not only by petitioning Congress, but also by pursuing a state strategy. Worth reading whether we’re Indivisible members or not: https://indivisible.org/
8. Heads up high school seniors graduating in 2019! Want to make that yearbook quote speak truth to power? "In 2019, graduating students nationwide will use their senior yearbook quote to demand stricter gun policies." States United to Prevent Gun Violence will share all the quotes posted online with Congress: https://www.donateyourquote.com
9. The party that controls a state at the time of the national census is the party that draws the congressional maps. With the 2020 census nearly upon us, the group Sister District has launched its new “Last Chance Strategy” to gain Democratic power in state legislatures and governors’ offices. The point is to have fair electoral maps so that voters choose their representatives, and not the other way around. Let’s read about Sister District’s Last Chance Strategy and sign up with Sister District so we can help. https://whystatesmatter.sisterdistrict.com/sister-districts-2019-2020-strategy-c48ecb0f9f7b
1. From Postcards for America: The National Popular Vote bill would guarantee the Presidency to the candidate who receives the most popular votes in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. It has been enacted into law in 12 states with 172 electoral votes (CA, CT, DC, HI, IL, MA, MD, NJ, NY, RI, VT, WA). The bill will take effect when enacted by states with 98 more electoral votes. Let’s see how we can help: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1Htz5D-5shJZtdvqDOWe1auGX4lGnhb2I_jD1khuMGJU/edit
Marches/events/webinars/Tweetstorms to attend/organize
1. If we are interested in Electoral Politics. Movement Technology. Grassroots Organizing. Digital Strategy. Capacity Building, we can check out Roots Camp, where all of these facets of our movement meet. Held from November 27-December 2 in Baltimore MD, it’s a chance to be a part of an "unconference" where participants design all sessions and leaders from all parts of the movement – organizers, campaigners, data directors, have a dynamic exchange of ideas. This year, they’re looking at how to practice a more inclusive politics and thinking about ways that we can transform our democracy so that our people win and collectively thrive. They’re interested in expanding understandings of what justice looks like for all our people, and equipping our leaders with the skillsets, tools, and frameworks to take this on and thrive. We can learn from one another, dream up new ideas, make lasting connections, and strengthen our networks. The conference aims to be inclusive, and there are several ways to defray the cost of attending. If we would like to find out more, including information about travel stipends, or volunteering in exchange for admission costs, we can check it out here: https://www.wellstone.org/events/rootscamp-2018
2. January 19, 2019 is the date of the third Women’s March with the main event to be held in Washington, D.C. with sister marches all over the country. Let’s find more information here: https://www.womensmarch.com/2019
1. FBI’s new hate crime report captures an America changed by hate - https://religionnews.com/2018/11/13/fbis-new-hate-crime-report-captures-an-america-changed-by-hate/
2. Trump, stung by midterms and nervous about Mueller, retreats from traditional presidential duties - http://www.latimes.com/politics/la-na-pol-trump-absent-20181113-story.html
3. Trump’s tax cut was supposed to change corporate behaviour. Here’s what happened - https://www.thestar.com/news/world/2018/11/13/trumps-tax-cut-was-supposed-to-change-corporate-behavior-heres-what-happened.html