Suggestions/additions welcome.

Note: To sign Elizabeth Warren’s Valentine’s Day card, you must sign by 3 pm today. See below.

UPCOMING VERMONT ACTIVITIES

  • Friday, February 17 12:00pm Brattleboro: Protest at TD Bank to encourage people to divest from TD Bank and to encourage TD Bank to divest from DAPL (see http://350vermont.org)
  • Friday, February 17 1:00pm Bellows Falls: Protest at TD Bank (see http://350vermont.org)
  • Saturday Feb 18 from 10 am – noon join the protest at TD Bank in Rutland (note: we’re at the intersection on the corner)
  • Tuesday, February 21 at 6pm upstairs at the Rutland Library Democratic County Meeting
  • Thursday, February 23 at 6 pm Rights and Democracy are going to be meeting in the Leahy room at the hospital in Rutland
  • Saturday February 25 Health care rally – According to a recent email from Rights and Democracy, Bernie is calling for health care rallies around Vermont on Saturday, Feb 25th. If you are interested, Carol Ballou has asked will sign us up for hosting one. Contact: wmsgal@gmail.com

SUCCESSES/GOOD NEWS

NEW ITEMS REQUIRING ACTION in no particular order – there are a lot, but that’s because I know that people are interested in different things. Pick the issue that you’re most concerned about, and take an action.

  1. ICE raids are targeting the most vulnerable populations. They are raiding women’s shelters and schools. http://fusion.net/story/265457/los-angeles-churches-immigration-raids-ice/

 

  1. With Jeff Sessions as US Attorney General, Americans’ basic rights may be at risk (source).
  • Action: Call your state legislators (lookup or Text your zip code to 520-200-2223 and you will receive a text with the phone numbers of your federal and local government legislators).

Script: Hi! I am a constituent from ZIP. I am calling to ask whether our state tracks data on police violence and hate crimes.

— If they’re not sure, ask if they’d be willing to call back with info.

— If not, say: “With Sen. Sessions’ appointment to Attorney General, I am concerned about eroding rights. I would like _name_ to propose legislation that would keep accurate data on hate crimes and police violence in our state. Thank you.” (from http://jenniferhofmann.com/home/weekly-action-checklist-democrats-independents-republicans-conscience/)

 

  1. “This week Nordstrom dropped Ivanka Trump’s line because it wasn’t performing well anymore. Afterwards, Trump sent a tweet attacking Nordstrom (https://twitter.com/realDonaldTrump/status/829356871848951809) (Official @Potus account retweeted Trump’s personal account tweet attacking Nordstrom https://twitter.com/leahmcelrath/status/829381489380958209). Kellyanne Conwayresponded by advising everyone to “Go buy Ivanka’s stuff” … “I’m going to give a free commercial here: Go buy it today, everybody; you can find it online.” This violates federal regulations against using your federal office to endorse or promote any private product or service. Representative Chaffetz said that Ms. Conway was “wrong, wrong, wrong” to endorse Ivanka. Representatives Chaffetz and Cummings sent a letter asking that Kellyanne be investigated by the Office of Government Ethics. The letter states, “Conway’s statements clearly violate the ethical principles for federal employees and are unacceptable.” But Ms. Conway’s ethical violations, while clear, can’t compare to Trump’s own. Trump has still refused to release is taxes or clear his conflicts of interest and the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform (led by Chaffetz) will not investigate. Love is blind, but the trust that Trump set up to hold his assets is not.” (from wall-of-us.org and https://twitter.com/tribelaw/status/829721074011090944 )
  • Action: Continue boycotting Trump products (seeorg)
  • Action: Call or email (calling is better)the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform (Peter Welch is on the committee 802-652-2450 or https://welch.house.gov/contact/email) and thank them for investigating Kellyanne Conway’s apparent ethical violation. While you are at it, ask them (once again) to investigate Trump’s vast conflicts of interest too.  (from wall-of-us.org)
  • Action: Report Trump for his promotion of his daughter’s products
    • Office of Government Ethics: ContactOGE@oge.gov or (202) 482-9300
    • Office of the Inspector General: 1-800-323-8603 or DHS Office of Inspector General/MAIL STOP 0305, Attn: Office of Investigations – Hotline, 245 Murray Lane SW, Washington, DC 20528-0305

 

  1. Vermont’s governor has proposed a bill to block local government officials from contributing to any federal registry based on sex, religious beliefs, sexual orientation, gender identity, marital status, race, color, national origin, immigration status, age or disability. An identical bill has been introduced in the state Senate (S79) and is sponsored by Sears, Ashe Balint and Degree. http://www.burlingtonfreepress.com/story/news/politics/2017/02/09/governor-lawmakers-push-bill-block-religious-registry/97692260/
  • Action: Contact your local state representatives to make sure that they support this legislation. To find them use https://openstates.org/find_your_legislator/ or text your zip code to 520-200-2223 and you will receive a text with the phone numbers of your federal and local government legislators).

 

  1. Democrats have produced legislation to force Trump to share his tax returns https://www.accountingtoday.com/news/senate-democrats-unveil-bill-requiring-trump-to-release-tax-returns (also see http://www.dailykos.com/story/2017/2/11/1632589/-New-Jersey-congressman-invokes-1924-tax-law-giving-Congress-power-to-examine-Trump-s-tax-returns)

Script: Hi! I’m from _ZIP_. I am calling to request that  _name_ publicly support the Presidential Tax Transparency bill introduced in the _Senate or House_ (S.26 or H.R.305)_, requiring disclosure of the three most-recent years of tax returns. I do care about President Trump’s tax returns and conflicts of interest. Thank you. (from http://jenniferhofmann.com/home/weekly-action-checklist-democrats-independents-republicans-conscience/)

 

  1. Betsy DeVos, Secretary of Education, as removed a website associated with the education of disabled children. https://www.rawstory.com/2017/02/democratic-senators-demand-to-know-why-betsy-devos-took-down-website-for-disabled-students/

Script: Hi! I am one of the Senator’s/Representative’s constituents in Vermont and I’m asking the Senator/Representative to denounce the removal of the website associated with the education of disabled children. Betsy DeVos’ assault on the welfare of our children is unacceptable and I expect the Senator/Representative to oppose it. Thank you.

 

  1. Last week’s newsletter mentioned the renewal of DAPL. This week, Trump claimed that he hasn’t “had one call” complaining about DAPL. “I don’t even think it was controversial.” http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/video/trump-havent-call-complaining-dakota-pipeline-45331538 Trump has turned off the White House’s comment line.  (Note: Senator Sanders has been vocal in his opposition to the DAPL.)

 

  1. Last week’s newsletter reported on the rising concerns regarding Flynn’s contacts with Russian officials the day that Obama imposed sanctions against Russia in response to Russia’s interference in the election. Flynn now resigned as National Security Advisor, but that doesn’t mean that we should let this go. Trump knew for some time about the illicit nature of this contact. Flynn has also been reported for violating the Foreign Agents Registration Act for his efforts to lobby the White House on behalf of Turkish politicians. http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/us-politics/donald-trump-national-security-adviser-mike-flynn-nsa-foreign-agents-registration-act-white-house-a7577106.html

Script: Hi, I’m [NAME], a constituent. I’m calling to urge [Senator or Representative’s NAME] to demand an independent investigation into Michael Flynn’s communication with Russia in the months prior to Donald Trump’s inauguration. There is strong evidence that Flynn spoke with the Russian government about US sanctions, which is illegal under the Logan Act. Flynn has resigned as National Security Advisor, but this does not resolve the issues related to the efforts made by Pence and Trump to cover up his activities. I expect [Senator or Representatives NAME] to condemn Flynn’s actions in the strongest possible terms and push for a thorough investigation into the extent of his communication with Russia. Thank you. (adapted from http://thesixtyfive.org/weeklyCTA )

 

  1. Last week’s petition discussed the danger of Bannon joining the National Security Council

 

  1. House has voted to eliminate the Election Assistance Commission (HR 634) http://www.hstoday.us/briefings/daily-news-analysis/single-article/partisan-vote-to-eliminate-election-assistance-commission-amid-cyber-concerns-causes-dem-outrage/76c0735f7c0ed1bbf5005df8f65ee99e.html

Script: I’m a constituent of the senator in Vermont and I’m very concerned that the House has voted to eliminate the Election Assistance Commission. I am asking the senator to vote against any legislation that would endanger the security of our elections. At a time when foreign hacking, illegal voting, and voting machine tampering are all in play, throwing the independent agency created to address such issues under the bus is not only bad timing but bad policy. If anything, support for the Commission should be strengthened, not weakened. Though some have suggested its functions could be taken up by the Federal Election Commission (FEC), it is unrealistic to ask the FEC to take on this role given that its current function is to monitors campaign contributions.  I urge and expect Senator [_________] to represent me by taking two concrete steps: publicly opposing HR 634, and voting against it, in any form, in any stage of the democratic process. (from https://www.wall-of-us.org/weekly-acts-of-resistance/2017/2/11/action-2-keep-calling)

 

  1. “The “fiduciary rule” is currently slated to go into effect April 10. It is intended to force retirement advisers to disclose conflicts of interest and eliminate hidden fees. The Trump administration is working on a proposal to delay the start date of the rule. The rule is opposed by industry groups that argue it unfairly exposes them to litigation and limits consumers’ choices. But on Wednesday, a Texas court upheld the rule and rejected a lawsuit filed by business groups that challenged the regulation. That could make it difficult for the Trump administration to make substantive changes to the rule down the road. The White House issued a presidential memo ordering the DOL to review the regulation, and public records show a status update was slated for March 10.” (http://www.cnbc.com/2017/02/10/the-trump-administration-is-preparing-to-delay-the-fiduciary-rule–for-real-this-time.html)
  • Action: Call your senators
    • Sanders Local office 802-862-0697
    • Leahy: Local office 802-863-2525

Caller: Good morning/afternoon! Can you let me know the Senator’s position on President Trump’s memo to the Department of Labor regarding the Fiduciary Rule?

OPTION 1: OPPOSES TRUMP’S ACTION [MEANING THEY SUPPORT THE FIDUCIARY RULE]

Staffer: Thank you for calling! Senator Bob supports the Fiduciary Rule.

Caller: That’s great! I’m calling to say that if Senator Bob truly believes, as I do, that there is a retirement savings crisis, then he should do everything he can to stop the Trump Administration from harming retirement savers and dismantling the fiduciary rule. This means making public statements standing with retirement savers who deserve a secure and dignified retirement and calling out the Wall Street special interests that are trying to pick retirement savers’ pockets.

I’m happy to hear the Senator opposes this reversal by the Trump administration. But will he commit to opposing Trump’s nominee for Secretary of Labor until you get an answer about his position on the fiduciary rule?

OPTION 2: SUPPORTS TRUMP’S ACTION [MEANING THEY OPPOSE THE FIDUCIARY RULE]

Staffer: Thank you for calling! Senator Bob opposes the Fiduciary Rule.

Caller: That’s terrible. What that means is Senator Bob is choosing to enrich Wall Street special interests over [his/her] hard-working constituents saving for retirement. [He/she]’s letting these advisers get kickbacks for steering me into risky and unnecessary investments. A White House report showed those conflicts of interests have cost retirement savers $17 billion a year. There is a crisis in America and we need to make every retirement dollar that we save count. We need and deserve protections that ensure that, when we receive advice, it is in our best interest, not our advisor’s or the firm’s. Did you know the presidential memo was written by Wall Street lobbyists?

Staffer: But this rule is unworkable and will make it harder for Americans to access advice.

Caller: That’s wrong. It will make it harder for advisors to give bad advice. If it’s not in savers’ best interest, it’s not advice. It’s a sales pitch dressed up as advice. Does Senator Bob think it’s acceptable that Wall Street firms and their trade associations advertise as “trusted advisors” and offer “retirement planning services” but then when they’re trying to get out of being held accountable for their advice, they claim in court that they are just salespeople merely selling products? In any other situation, that would be fraud. Does Senator Bob support fraud?

OPTION 3: DODGES/HAS NO POSITION

Staffer: Thank you for calling! I have no idea what the fiduciary rule is, but I’m happy to take down your concerns.

Caller: That’s disappointing to hear—this is very import issue for millions of Americans, myself included. By eliminating the fiduciary rule, the Trump administration is choosing to enrich Wall Street special interests over Senator Bob’s hard-working constituents saving for retirement. He’s letting these advisers get kickbacks for steering me into risky and unnecessary investments. A White House reportshowed those conflicts of interests have cost retirement savers $17 billion a year. Did you know the presidential memo was written by Wall Street lobbyists?

Staffer: I didn’t know that but I’m happy to take down your concerns.

Caller: Here’s my concern: We need and deserve protections that ensure that, when we receive professional financial advice, it is in our best interest, not our advisor’s or the firm’s. I expect Senator Bob will represent his continuent like me—and not Wall Street or Trump. I expect Senator Bob to do two things to prove that he in on my side here:

  1. Publicly state his support for the fiduciary rule
  2. Commit to opposing Trump’s nominee for Secretary of Labor until you get an answer about his position on the fiduciary rule

Will Senator Bob take these two steps to protect his constituents?

Staffer: I will certainly pass on your concerns to the Senator.

Caller: Please do, and please take down my contact information to let me know when the Senator has made up his mind. I’m eager to hear what he decides.

(from https://www.indivisibleguide.com/resources-2/2017/2/7/fiduciary-rule)

 

  1. House Republicans have proposed a bill to eliminate the Board of Education http://thehill.com/blogs/floor-action/house/318310-gop-lawmaker-proposes-abolishing-department-of-education

Script: I am one of the Representative’s constituents in Vermont. I am asking the Representative to vote against Massie’s bill to eliminate the federal Board of Education.

 

  1. Bipartisan group of senators are calling for an investigation into the mismanaged military operation in Yemen which resulted in the death of a US Seal and several civilians https://twitter.com/SenFranken/status/830107661014269952 see http://www.npr.org/2017/02/10/514378178/fact-check-trumps-yemen-raid-winning-mission-or-failure-its-not-so-simple

Script: I’m one of the Senator’s constituents in Vermont and I’m concerned about the recent operation in Yemen which resulted in the death of a US Seal and several civilians. I would like the Senator to support an investigation into US actions and objectives in Yemen. Thank you.

 

  1. Over the weekend, Trump visited his resort in Mar-a-Lago with the Japanese PM. While there, Mar-a-Lago club members had themselves photographed with the individual responsible for overseeing the “nuclear football” and these photos were posted on Facebook, thereby compromising this individual’s identity. Moreover, security briefings were reviewed by Trump in the dining room with waiters using flashlights on their cell phones to provide lighting. Trump then discussed the contents of these briefings with diners. http://www.businessinsider.com/trump-north-korea-mar-a-lago-meeting-photos-2017-2 and http://www.mediaite.com/online/mar-a-lago-guest-posts-photos-of-trump-and-prime-minister-abe-reviewing-confidential-docs-to-facebook-page/ and http://thehill.com/homenews/administration/319211-mar-a-lago-guest-posts-pics-with-nuclear-football-carrier

Script: I’m one of the Senator’s constituents in Vermont and I’m concerned about what appears to have been a serious breach of security last weekend at Mar-a-Lago. Club members are taking pictures of key personnel and posting these pictures to the internet. Club members were also present and taking photos when Trump was reviewing a briefing regarding North Korean weapons testing. I would like the Senator to look into the lax security measures in the current administration. Thank you.

 

  1. Republicans are preparing plan to gut Consumer Finance Protection Bureau. “ Maxine Waters (D-Calif.), the ranking Democrat on the Financial Services Committee, called Hensarling’s plan a “disastrous blueprint” that would “destroy the protections Congress created to stop Wall Street from ripping off hardworking Americans.”” https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2017/02/09/gop-preparing-plan-to-gut-consumer-finance-protection-bureau-roll-back-wall-street-reform/?utm_term=.3ea840657013

Script: I am one of the Representative’s constituents in Vermont. I am asking the Representative to vote to protect the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau and to vote against Hensarling’s plan to dismantle it. Thank you.

 

  1. Entry into the US is becoming increasingly difficult. A US-born NASA scientist was denied entry until he provided the access to his phone to border agents. “Since the phone was issued by NASA, it may have contained sensitive material that wasn’t supposed to be shared. Bikkannavar’s phone was returned to him after it was searched by CBP, but he doesn’t know exactly what information officials might have taken from the device.” http://www.theverge.com/2017/2/12/14583124/nasa-sidd-bikkannavar-detained-cbp-phone-search-trump-travel-ban A Canadian woman was turned away from the border after questions about religion and Trump. http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/montreal/canadian-woman-turned-away-from-u-s-border-after-questions-about-religion-trump-1.3972019

Script: I’m one of the Senator’s constituents in Vermont and I’m very concerned about the stories indicating that border patrol agents are preventing entry into the United States based on responses to religious questions and queries regarding attitudes towards Trump. I am particularly disturbed about a story indicating that a US-born NASA scientist had his NASA-issued phone seized and that it was not returned to him until he had provided the border patrol agent access to the phone. This is a serious breach of security. I would like the Senator to take a stand against this discriminatory and dangerous breach of privacy for individuals entering the US, whether or not the individuals are American citizens. Thank you.

 

  1. Sessions is already working to undermine protections for transgender children. The Trump administration has electednot to contest a Texas federal judge’s injunction barring the federal government from implementing Obama administration guidelines that protect transgender kids in schools.  https://thinkprogress.org/jeff-sessions-doj-transgender-rights-schools-fb105c1db30f?gi=ae43f9194fa6

U.S. Department of Justice
950 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20530-0001

Script: I am deeply disturbed that the Department of Justice chose not to contest a Texas federal judge’s injunction on a federal law to protect transgender children in schools. The DoJ must stand to protect all children. I expect it to do so.

 

  1. Trump continues with plans to build a wall between Mexico and the US, as discussed in the second newsletter.
  • Action: Send a fragment of brick to the politicians behind this plan to mock their plan. (from Glenn Reed)

Dear (Senator McConnell, Congressman Ryan, President Trump),

I understand that you are committed to building the “Beautiful Trump Wall” along the 1,900 mile U.S. and Mexican border. This would certainly be in the tradition of the Great Wall of China and the Berlin Wall. However, as an American and a taxpayer, I have some concerns with this proposed project.

I have read various estimates on how much this “Wall” would cost “we, the people,” since it’s clear that we will be left footing the bill. Some have ranged as high as $25 billion dollars or more and you KNOW that there are always cost overruns on every such project.

So exactly how WILL we pay for this wall since you are always so concerned about the national debt and such? Oh, I expect that you’ll decide to slash away at the federal budget in the usual places—programs that actually benefit millions of us and the country as a whole such as Medicaid, Medicare, food stamps, Social Security, subsidized housing, education and such. However, I have a better suggestion that could serve as an alternative for all of us and make such cuts unnecessary!

Millions of Americans can donate building materials for your Wall in order to slash costs and not dig a bigger national debt. Consider the enclosed a gift in the spirit to “Make America Great Again!” and as “Another Brick for Your Wall!”

 

  1. Show your gratitude for people who are doing the right thing

 

Write: Sen. Ben Sasse (R-NE), 1128 Lincoln Mall, Suite 305, Lincoln, NE 68508.

Script: Thank you so much for speaking out in support of America’s judges. There are no “so-called” judges. I appreciate your leadership! Name, State (source)

  • Speaking up for women’s access to reproductive care

Write: Isabella Lövin, SE 103 33 Stockholm, Sweden and/or

Lilianne Ploumen P.O. Box 20061, 2500 EB The Hague, The Netherlands

(use $1.15 in stamps on each letter or postcard).

Script: Thank you for your leadership in response to my country’s regrettable “gag rule.” Please accept my gratitude and extend my thanks to leaders whose actions support women’s choices everywhere. Name, State, Country (source, source)

  • Supporting presidential tax transparency

Write: Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) (address), Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT) (address), and Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-CA) (address).
Script: Thank you for introducing your Presidential Tax Transparency bill in the _Senate or House_. I’m grateful for your efforts to obtain President Trump’s tax returns and those of future presidents and nominees. Name, State

  • Advocating for ethics and integrity

Write: Rep. Bill Pascrell (D-NJ), 367 Valley Brook Ave., Lyndhurst, NJ 07071.
Script: Thank you for recommending a way forward to releasing Trump’s tax returns. Transparency is important!  Name, State

 

THINGS TO KEEP AN EYE ON

Trump has announced an interest in refocusing one of many terror-watch groups to focus solely on Islamic radicals. Other groups would continue to monitor white supremacists terror groups. http://occupydemocrats.com/2017/02/02/trump-just-removed-white-supremacist-groups-terror-watch-program/ and http://www.snopes.com/trump-terror-watch-program/

Trump quipped that he’d “destroy” a lawmaker who was standing in the way of the police seizing property without following due process https://www.bloomberg.com/politics/articles/2017-02-07/trump-quips-he-d-destroy-career-of-lawmaker-who-irked-sheriff

 

GROUPS TO FOLLOW/SUPPORT

Concerned with protection of immigrants https://www.americanimmigrationcouncil.org/ and http://migrantjustice.net

Concerned about DAPL http://350vermont.org

Want to be notified about local meetings of your elected officials  www.voterheads.com to

Concerned about voting rights https://www.letamericavote.org/

Concerned about government regulations continuing to protect the environment and our health, support the organizations who are taking him to court over his “Pass one regulation, delete two” order https://www.nrdc.org/ , https://www.citizen.org , and https://www.cwa-union.org/

Concerned about the confirmation of Betsy DeVos as Secretary of Education, despite her lack of qualifications and her opposition to public schools (suggestions from http://www.upworthy.com/betsy-devos-is-our-education-secretary-heres-what-to-do-next)

  • Donors Choose. The platform gives teachers a place to crowd-fund classroom projects, allowing individuals (that’s you!) to help students, whether it begiving art supplies to students in California or providing iPads to kids in Brooklyn to boost their linguistic and social skills
  • Donate toNo Kid Hungry. The nonprofit helps feed American schoolchildren so they can stay full and focused in the classroom. One $10 gift can provide up to 100 meals to a kid who could use it
  • Support theKids in Need Foundation. The nonprofit provides thousands of backpacks filled with school supplies to students in need every year, giving them the tools they need to succeed in class
  • Donate toFirst Book. This nonprofit provides new books and other learning materials to kids and families in need. Since it was founded in 1992, the group has given away 160 million books and education resources
  • Contact your local school and pay off overdue lunch accounts

Concerned about animal welfare, support the ALDF’s lawsuit regarding the USDA reports that have been removed from public http://aldf.org/blog/help-us-fight-back-critical-animal-welfare-reports-removed-from-usda-website/