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2/6/19 

Contact Federal Government Officials



1.    Here are two sources that fact-checked Trump’s State of the Union message last evening:  https://www.npr.org/2019/02/05/690345256/fact-check-trumps-state-of-the-union-address and https://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/article/2019/feb/05/fact-checking-state-union-2019/  Let’s make sure our MoCs know that despite what Trump says, we want them to use truth and evidence to make decisions that work for the people of this country.  Here is the fact-checked version of Stacey Abram’s Democratic Response:   https://www.npr.org/2019/02/05/690346427/fact-check-democratic-response-to-trumps-state-of-the-union-address

2.   Trump has not guaranteed to make the Mueller Report public and says he will leave that up to the Attorney General, William Barr, whose confirmation vote is coming up this week. https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/donald-trump/trump-says-he-doesn-t-know-if-he-wants-mueller-n966366?utm. Barr has also not explicitly stated whether he will make Mueller’s report public. https://www.washingtonpost.com/powerpost/barr-still-refuses-to-pledge-to-release-mueller-probe/2019/01/28/733214b6-2327-11e9-ad53-824486280311_story.html?utm_term=.f4a80fe627fe  While his confirmation remains likely, we still should put pressure on our Senators not to vote for him until he pledges to make sure the American people have full access to the report. Anything less would be a betrayal of our democracy.

3.   Despite evidence that a wall is not needed at the border, in order to appease his base Trump has started building part of a wall that will go through the National Butterfly Center.  The heavy equipment has arrived.  As a Center volunteer said, “The actual border runs down the middle of the Río Grande. The segment of wall that will destroy the Sanctuary will be short enough that anyone can simply walk around it. It will serve no other purpose whatsoever than to gratify Trump's monstrous ego and to punish the border counties for voting for Hillary.”  https://medium.com/wild-without-end/between-the-river-the-wall-wild-creatures-and-features-on-the-chopping-block-397fc5495c45 and https://apnews.com/e653d5a305114835bb399e480ac44ab8 Let’s let our MoCs know that we find this, or any other border wall, unacceptable.  We can also donate to help support the efforts to protect the center:  https://www.gofundme.com/protect-the-national-butterfly-center

4.   Today, two House committees will hold the first Congressional hearings on climate change in over five years.   
http://www.rollcall.com/news/congress/delay-house-democrats-begin-climate-push  Let’s let our reps know that we support the work of these committees and want to hear how they are, too.

5.   From one of our own:  This Wednesday [today], the House Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing on gun violence for the first time in nearly a decade. This hearing will kick off deliberation and eventually a vote on HR 8 Universal Background Checks Act which will close background loopholes on gun show and private sales on a federal level. Not the boldest legislations but it has bipartisan support and it's a start.  We wanted Congress to do something about gun violence for years so now is the time to let them know we're paying attention. I put together a public Google doc toolkit that includes a directory of Judiciary members, phone numbers, Twitter handles, NRA $ and call/email script and links to Click To Tweets. 

6.   Alexander Hamilton explained in 1788 that the Senate confirmation process was meant to deter a president from filling key posts with “obsequious instruments of his pleasure” by making them accountable to Congress: 
http://avalon.law.yale.edu/18th_century/fed76.asp   One assumes Trump is so fond of  “acting” officials because they are, while unconfirmed, beholden only to him; we currently have an acting chief of staff, attorney general, defense secretary, Office of Management and Budget director, and EPA director.  In fact, only 54% of Trump’s executive branch nominations have been confirmed—and now we have another unconfirmed official, ex-energy lobbyist David Bernhardt, who as Acting Secretary of the Interior would oversee the use--or abuse--of 20% of the US land mass: https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-interior-bernhardt/trump-to-nominate-ex-energy-lobbyist-bernhardt-to-head-interior-idUSKCN1PT24V  Let’s suggest to our MoCs that they force the Senate Republicans to take responsibility for these nominees, who have just as much power while “acting” as they otherwise would but are answerable only to Trump.

7.   While people were focused on the shutdown, the Trump administration rolled back worker safety regulations instituted in the Obama era that required employers to report work-related injuries, in order to monitor the safety of workplaces. http://fortune.com/2019/01/30/white-house-worker-safety-rules/. Let’s ask our MoCs to introduce legislation that undoes this change and enhances worker safety.

8.  Approximately thirty migrant detainees are on hunger strikes, protesting verbal abuse and lengthy detentions in U.S. facilities. Although numerous organizations, including the United NationsWorld Health Organization, and World Medical Association, consider force-feeding to be inhumane, unethical, and cruel, ICE has, with the authorization of a federal judge, begun force-feeding some of those who are striking (https://bit.ly/2Gbrm3D).  Force-feeding is tortuous and cannot stand. Let's call our MoC and ask them to subpoena Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen to testify about these actions immediately. 

9.   From one of our own:  Public comments needed - his week's list - Regulations.gov hasn't been that active because of the shutdown, though I did notice a lot of activity from the banking and finance sector - SEC, FDIC, NCUA (credit unions) with the same proposals. Also, a lot from SEC on different markets - NYSE, NASDAQ, etc - these I couldn't find any information on. Also, Immigration had a bunch of posts but again nothing written about them that I could find. As I read through new proposals of the last week what did stand out was the SNAP - food stamp - further restrictions. This is getting some press. Here's the list: https://drive.google.com/open?id=1LUzBAdOi4ePDKNiHmiw8IA-pYdlhU6NA

10. From one of our own: “The Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act of 2019, H.R. 763, has been reintroduced in the U.S. House of Representatives. When enacted, the bipartisan Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act will drive down America’s carbon pollution and bring climate change under control, while unleashing American technology innovation and ingenuity.”  Let’s use this link from Citizens’ Climate Lobby to ask our rep to support this:  https://citizensclimatelobby.org/write-your-representative/#/48/

11.  The Wildlife Innovation and Longevity Driver (WILD) Act, S268, a bipartisan bill containing measures to conserve threatened wildlife and wild places around the world has been reintroduced. Let's read more about it a the Orange County Breeze.  Let's contact our Senators to ask them to co-sponsor and/or support this important wildlife legislation.

12. Senate Democrats introduced legislation on Monday to prevent the president from using military and disaster relief funds to construct the U.S.-Mexico border wall should he declare a national emergency. Let's read more at The Hill.  Let's contact our Senators to ask that they support S326, the Restrictions Against Illegitimate Declarations for Emergency Re-appropriations (RAIDER) Act.

Election/Voting

Other Actions

1.    What’s going on at MDC Brooklyn, where the power and heat has been out now for a week during Arctic temperatures, prompting prisoners to protest? Why are the Warden and Facilities Manager apparently indifferent to their legitimate concerns?  https://theintercept.com/2019/02/02/federal-prison-no-heat-new-york-nadler-mdc/ Let’s let the administrators in charge of the facility know that treating human beings this way is unacceptable. We can call Warden Herman Quay or Associate Warden David Ortiz at 718-840-4200, and Nicole McFarland, US Marshall Assistant Chief at 718-840-4200 ext. 41740. We can also sign this petition calling for the dismissal of the Warden for his handling of the matter: 

2.   Recent revelations about Virginia Governor Ralph Northam’s past remind many of us, especially if we are in a position of racial privilege, that there is much to learn about the complexities of how racism functions in our society. For many, racism is seen as only individual acts of persecution, but the reality of our racism in our society is more entrenched, systemic and complex. There are many ways to become more aware of how these systems work.  One of those ways is to take a deeper look here, with these resources by the Center for the Study of White American Culture, concerning what it means to decenter whiteness and build multi-racial communities:  https://www.cswac.org/decentering-whiteness-and-building-multiracial-community/

3.   Lawyer Moms of America is having a fundraiser of sorts by asking folks to donate $1 to them for every lie Trump told during the State of the Union message.  Let’s find out more here:  https://www.gofundme.com/a-dollar-for-every-lie

4.   This week is the Black Lives Matter at School National Week of Action, with four demands that are the focus for this week. This year, the latest demand was added "Counselors, not Cops."  We can find out more about this demand when we check out Dignity in Schools, a coalition working to dismantle the School to Prison Pipeline. They have a great interactive website that focuses on this issue with three sections of recommendations:  1) End the Regular Presence of Law Enforcement in Schools, B) Create Safe Schools through Positive Safety and Discipline Measures, and C) Restrict the Role of Law Enforcement that are Called in to Schools.  http://dignityinschools.org/interactive/counselors-not-cops/mobile.html# The overall Model Code on Education and Dignity can be found at:  http://dignityinschools.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/Model_Code_2013-1.pdf We can also consult their resource guide here:  http://www.dignityinschools.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/Resource_Guide-on-CNC-1.pdf  If we want to find out more about Black Lives Matter at School and how we can get involved in the Week of Action, we can check out this website too: https://blacklivesmatteratschool.com/

5.   Ralph Northam is calling for "meaningful dialogue" about race in America, and this fact alone reveals a lot about why we are so bad at confronting racism. See here for a great explanation of this unfortunate state of affairs:  https://www.npr.org/2019/02/04/691427223/why-calls-for-racial-dialogue-so-rarely-lead-to-it. When engaging with (or confronting) others about racism, keeping these points in mind will get us closer to the heart of the issue.

6.   #Voteprochoice has provided us with a Prochoice Nation Toolkit to use during this difficult week for reproductive freedom:   https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/1j8lKcjtBWUa9HWjQLIXH0RkO-xZbqUdw

State Actions

1.    MA: Last week the largely Democratic Massachusetts State House voted against several rules that would have greatly increased transparency: These included giving legislators more time to read bills and amendments before they were voted on and making testimony for/against a bill, as well as committee votes, were publicly available. Adopting these rules would have made it easier for bills to come to the floor, regardless of leadership’s position on them, but many Democrats voted with leadership, rather than with the people they represent. Let’s find out how our state legislators voted here, (scroll down for votes on all three amendments) and if they voted against these rule changes, we should contact them and express our dismay. Progressive Massachusetts has compiled a list of counter arguments for legislators’ 10 common excuses for voting against these rules changes here, so we can make sure to use these in our arguments as to why this was the wrong way to vote.

2.   MI: Governor Whitmer has announced the restructuring and reorganization of the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ), into Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (https://bit.ly/2WJ3CJw). The Executive Order will also include a Clean Water Public Advocate to monitor and investigate water quality throughout the state, as well as an Environmental Justice Response Team to, among other duties, identify and address "discriminatory public health or environmental effects of state laws, regulations, policies, and activities." While this provides some hope that we will begin to see environmental justice in our state, the Republican-controlled legislature still has the power to overturn the order within sixty days. Let's check out Executive Order 2019-2, then let's be sure to contact our state legislators, particularly if they are republican, and tell them that we support this order.

3.   MT: Montana state Democrats on Monday introduced a bill in the Montana House to increase the penalty for assaulting a journalist. The measure, if passed, would increase the penalty for assaulting a reporter from a fine of $500 to a maximum of $5,000. Additionally, an individual could face up to a year in jail if convicted of the crime. Let's read more at The Hill. Let's contact our Montana state representatives in support of the Protect Free Press Act.

Marches/events/webinars/Tweetstorms to attend/organize

1.    If we are interested in running for office, we can check out the National Democratic Training Committee’s Online Campaign Academy by joining their Orientation Webinar this Wednesday, February 6 at 5pm Eastern Time. The training is free and NDTC promises to “do everything we can to teach you how to win.”  We can find out more about the organization here: https://www.traindemocrats.org/home/, then we  can click here to register: https://traindemocrats.typeform.com/to/L9FYdH 

2.   At 10:30am (EST) on Thursday, February 6, the oversight subcommittee of the Energy and Commerce Committee will hold hearings on the child separation policy. we can watch that livestream by CLICKING HERE.  (h/t Small Deeds Done)

3.   At 2pm (EST) on Thursday, February 6, the Ways and Means Committee’s oversight subcommittee will hold a hearing on H.R. 1 – which is the overarching government reform bill that is the policy priority for the House. You can subscribe to the Ways and Means Committee YouTube channel here. If your Congresscritter is a Democrat, check to see if he/she has co-sponsored H.R. 1 by CLICKING HERE. And if they haven’t, give them a buzz and encourage them to do so!  (h/t Small Deeds Done)

4.   On Friday, February 22, from 9:00 AM to 2:30 PM (EST)  DemLabs is holding a Digital Storytelling workshop in Washington, D.C. Experts will review their storytelling projects and the apps used to create them.  The workshop is free, but space is limited. RSVP here.

Reading/Watching


1.    What if the poor people of all races formed a political alliance? - https://www.nola.com/opinions/2019/02/what-if-the-poor-people-of-all-races-formed-a-political-alliance.html

2.   Don't get what's wrong with blackface? Here's why it's so offensive -

3.   Higher taxes on the rich polling well? Fox Business host blames ‘the idea of fairness’ that’s being taught in schools - https://www.marketwatch.com/story/rasing-taxes-on-the-rich-fox-news-host-blames-the-idea-of-fairness-2019-02-05



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