Rutland, Vermont-focus, but includes suggestions applicable across the nation

Suggestions/additions welcome.

UPCOMING

  • Tuesday, February 21 at 6pm upstairs at the Rutland Library for the first Democratic County Meeting of 2017
  • 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 at noon – ACA rally in front of UU church in Rutland. If you are interested in helping preparation, contact Carol Ballou at wmsgal@gmail.com
  • Saturday April 10 am – 3 pm People’s Climate March 93 State St, Montpelier https://www.resistancecalendar.org/

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 action.

  1. The White House comment line is apparently up and running again. Call and give your opinion: 202-456-1111 (and program it into your phone).

  2. Disapproval for 45 and the GOP-controlled Congress grows, and yet both claim to have a mandate. This fuels voter apathy. Project1464 recommends that we address this problem by supporting Raked Choice voting. “RCV allows voters torank candidates from their favorite to least favorite. Those with the fewest votes are ruled out and their votes go to the voters’ other picks. This means voters vote for rather than against candidates because there is no fear of splitting the vote. Winners are elected by earning the greatest consensus, so nastiness does not pay! Ranked choice voting is also sometimes called “instant-runoff voting” — in other words, every candidate is essentially in a runoff situation until someone wins, and that someone is the person most liked by the most voters. This electoral system is already being used in other democratic countries, and even parts of the United States.” (https://www.project1461.org) Also see http://www.fairvote.org/rcv#rcvbenefits Vermont does not have RCV, but some areas in the state await implementation. Note: Howard Dean favors RCV https://www.nytimes.com/2016/12/03/us/maine-ranked-choice-voting.html


  1. ICE agents have been arresting immigrants who were supposed to be protected under the DACA Program, using what appears to be confabulated charges of criminal activities http://www.cnn.com/2017/02/17/us/daniel-ramirez-medina-differing-accounts-daca-detention/ Fortunately, Seattle’s school board has announced that ICE agents won’t be allowed access to school buildings or records http://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/education/seattle-schools-vow-to-alleviate-concerns-of-immigrant-students-families/?utm_content=buffer816d9&utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter&utm_campaign=owned_buffer_tw_m


  1. 45 is poised to roll back net neutrality, which “prevents Internet providers likeComcast (CCV) and AT&T (TTech30) from deliberately speeding up or slowing down traffic from specific websites and apps. In short, [the rules are] intended to prevent providers from playing favorites.” http://money.cnn.com/2017/01/24/technology/fcc-net-neutrality/

  • Action: Email the FCC Leadership Chairman Pai@fcc.gov, Commissioner Mignon.Clyburn@fcc.gov, Commissioner Mike.O’Rielly@fcc.gov, or call 888-225-5322, or write Federal Communications Commission 445 12th Street SW, Washington DC 20554
    • Script: I’m calling to ask ___ to consider the needs of students, journalists, consumers, and businesses as well as all those who use the internet for music, movies, games, social media and news. Restriction of internet neutrality would inhibit access to Americans that rely on this freedom as a way of life. (from https://twitter.com/decaro_nick/status/833909802040381442)

  1. Glenn McCoy posted a cartoon recasting Ruby Bridges as Betsy DeVos as she was escorted into school in Normal Rockwell’s iconic portrait. http://www.nbcnews.com/news/nbcblk/cartoon-comparing-betsy-devos-ruby-bridges-sparks-backlash-n721531 Why this is offensive: McCoy’s cartoon has substituted the “n-word” in the cartoon with the word “conservative.” “They are not comparable!!!! Race is an immutable quality; conservatism, a choice. The “n-” is the most insensitive word today, “conservative” is not even pejorative. When “conservative” is meant critically, it is in part aimed at the racial insensitivity of some modern conservatives. Ruby Bridges was a child when this happened. She was a focal point of years of baseless, bigoted hatred, w/in a racist, Jim Crow society. Betsy Devos is an adult. Criticism of her is based on years of controversial stances that she has taken. Violence is not justified, but Ruby had literally done NOTHING WRONG. Betsy, agree or disagree, is worthy of (peaceful) protest against her stances. DeVos is drawn small, as if she were a powerless child. Couldn’t be further from the truth. Devos is the Sec of DoEd. That’s powerful! As Sec of DoEd, Devos has some power to stop the very type of discrimination – school segregation – that Ruby Bridges was trying to end! DeVos is a multimillionaire who bought her way to a cabinet position. The very opposite of a child who must be protected by armed guards. This is yet another manifestation of conservative embrace of “victim” mentality. BTW, the problem with DeVos was not conservatism. It was her purchase of her position & her ignorance of the basics of education policy. BC any education expert will tell you that the DoED was becoming conservative enough under the Obama administration. DeVos wasn’t assaulted. Nothing was thrown at her. She was briefly deterred from entering a building. She was confronted with signs. Ruby Bridges stands for the courage of a child in the face of opposition to human decency. McCoy personally insulted HER… a woman who is still alive, who has children & grandchildren who, for all McCoy knows, go to the public schools under DeVos’s control.” From https://twitter.com/AltEEOB/status/831677990882930688

  • Action: Email the artist explaining why his cartoon was a grotesque perversion of history. glen@glenmccoy.com
  • Action: Contact the local Normal Rockwell Museum asking them to denounce this use of Rockwell’s image: http://www.normanrockwellvt.com/contact.htm or Toll-Free 1-877-773-6095. Script: Are you aware of the Glen McCoy cartoon recasting Ruby Bridges as Betsy DeVos? Do you think that Norman Rockwell would support this grotesque perversion of his beautiful portrait? DeVos is a billionaire adult who was peacefully protested for her choices. Bridges was a little girl verbally assaulted and nearly denied an education for the color of her skin color. ‘Conservative’ isn’t a bad word. The ‘n-word’ is. Equating the two is a horrible distortion of history and Rockwell’s vision. I think you should issue a statement denouncing Glen McCoy’s cartoon.
  • Action: Support independent artists who are using art to fight 45 https://www.etsy.com/market/anti_trump_art
  • Action: Sign a petition to The National School Boards Association, The School Superintendents Association, and The National PTA asking that they not invite DeVos to public schools https://actionnetwork.org/petitions/keep-devos-away-from-our-public-schools?source=direct_link&referrer=lyn-hoyt

  1. Previous newsletters have reported on the current administration’s removal of critical data from federal websites.


  1. 45 is expected to issue a revised immigrant travel ban http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2017/02/20/donald-trump-set-to-issue-new-revised-travel-ban-against-majority-muslim-countries/98167072/


  1. More evidence is coming to light of Russia’s interference in the current administration. “Despite headlines suggesting Republicans are taking this seriously, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee’s chairman, Bob Corker (R-TN), has said he’s “not yet ready to embrace” the idea of an investigation.” https://www.wall-of-us.org/weekly-acts-of-resistance/2017/2/19/action-3-tell-lawmakers-overseeing-ethics-to-shine-a-light-on-ties-to-russia Fortunately, Welch, Leahy, and Sanders have demanded an investigation https://welch.house.gov/media-center/press-releases/house-floor-welch-demands-investigation-trump-ties-russia , http://www.caledonianrecord.com/opinion/columns/sen-patrick-leahy-ensuring-judicial-independence-will-require-senate-independence/article_b4417b46-7ed8-5d25-84f9-24810f465fc1.html,  https://www.sanders.senate.gov/newsroom/press-releases/-sanders-investigate-trump-ties-to-russia. Leahy also signed a letter to the White House, DoJ and FBI demanding that all materials related to 45 and Russia be preserved, has asked Sessions to recuse himself, and has demanded an independent prosecutor. https://www.leahy.senate.gov/press/feinstein-leahy-and-all-judiciary-committee-democratic-members-in-letters-to-wh-doj-fbi-retain-all-documents-related-to-trump-russia and https://www.leahy.senate.gov/press/senators-call-for-independent-prosecutor-to-investigate-trump-officials-collusion-with-russia-and-apparent-white-house and https://www.leahy.senate.gov/press/senators-to-ag-sessions-recuse-yourself-from-trump-russia-investigations   But we need to keep pushing for an independent commission, free of interference of either party and the interference of Sessions as DoJ (Sessions is implicated in 45’s Russian ties; his connection to Flynn is mentioned below, but he also placed Carter Page on 45’s campaign team; Page is a go-between for 45 and Russia. http://www.businessinsider.com/carter-page-trump-russia-igor-sechin-dossier-2017-1 and https://twitter.com/Khanoisseur/status/831949117941166082 and http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2016/09/the-mystery-of-trumps-man-in-moscow-214283 )


  1. Work on DAPL continues.


  1. 45’s administration drafted a proposal to have the National Guard round up immigrants. They’re now claiming that it was only a draft and was rejected, but this is part of their pattern: They let a plan leak, refuse to comment on it prior to publication, then deny it once the media storm erupts. And “proposed plans” keep turning into action. We need to be proactive and get in front of this. https://www.apnews.com/5508111d59554a33be8001bdac4ef830

  • Action: Contact Governor Phil Scott 802 828-3333 or http://governor.vermont.gov/contact-us/message Script: I am one of the governor’s constituents in Vermont and I’m very disturbed with Trump’s leaked proposal to use the National Guard to round up immigrants. It is my understanding that any use of the National Guard would have to be approved by the governor. I’m asking the governor to refuse to grant his permission for this purpose and to issue a statement denouncing the leaked proposal. Thank you.

  1. 45’s pursuit and receipt of a trademark in China (apparently as a reward for 45 endorsing the One China policy and in apparent violation of China’s own law) has been denounced as Senator Feinstein as a possible violation of the Constitution. http://www.politico.com/story/2017/02/trump-china-trademark-dianne-feinstein-235147 and https://thinkprogress.org/china-trump-trademark-e3abd18f58f2#.rw1d8fa05


  1. The wave of post-election anti-Semitic attacks continues with bomb threats and now a vandalized cemetery http://www.cnn.com/2017/02/21/us/jewish-cemetery-vandalized/ and http://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/federal-authorities-investigate-bomb-threats-targeting-jewish-centers-n723431


  1. Scott Pruitt’s confirmation as head of the EPA is a blow to efforts to fight climate change.


  1. 45 has delayed the addition of the rusty patched bumblebee to the list of endangered species, “a result of a regulatory freeze White House chief of staff Reince Priebus imposed on President Trump’s first day in office” https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/energy-environment/wp/2017/02/09/trump-administration-puts-off-listing-bumble-bee-as-endangered/?utm_term=.890b6fac4755


  1. Last week’s newsletter reported that 45 had undermined national security with his behavior at Mar-a-Lago.

  • Action: Contact the US Senate Select Committee on Intelligence
    • Chairman, Sen Richard Burr (R-NC) DC: 202-224-3154 NC: 800-685-8916
    • Vice Chair, Mark Warner (D-VA) DC: 202-224-2023
    • Script: Hi! I am calling _name_ regarding their role on the Senate Intelligence Committee. I am concerned by the president discussing classified national security information in an unsecured, open-air restaurant. Does _name_ plan to make a public statement or take corrective action on this risky behavior? (from http://jenniferhofmann.com/home/weekly-action-checklist-democrats-independents-republicans-conscience/)

  1. Crackdowns on protest continue while GOP seeks to criminalize peaceful protest https://theintercept.com/2017/01/19/republican-lawmakers-in-five-states-propose-bills-to-criminalize-peaceful-protest/

  • Action: Contact Governor Phil Scott 802 828-3333 or http://governor.vermont.gov/contact-us/message Script: I’m [NAME], from [CITY, ZIP CODE]. I’m calling because I’m disturbed by the recent wave of bills aimed at silencing protesters. Trump’s allies are attacking a fundamental American right. And they’re putting people trying to exercise that right at risk. None of our state legislators have joined in this effort yet, and we need to keep it that way. Please tell the Governor to publicly commit to vetoing any legislation that threatens protesters and our rights. (from http://www.weekly-resistance.online/index.html)

  1. “The 2017 U.S. Women’s Open is being held at Donald Trump’s New Jersey golf resort. This event began in 1946 and is the most prestigious women’s golf event. So what? Well, Trump could make bank from this event because he refuses to separate from his assets. Just like the #boycott Trump campaign, we need to hit him where it hurts. And golf would hit him especially hard. So let’s brush up on our golf facts: (this and the following from https://www.wall-of-us.org)

  • The Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA) is one of the world’s long-standing women’s sports organizations and has a nearly 70 year history.
  • The Women’s Open is organized by the US Golf Association (USGA), not the LPGA.
  • In October two senators asked for the tournament to be moved given Trump’s offensive comments about women, but to no avail.
  • The Men’s Professional Golf Association (PGA) moved their tour from a Trump property. The PGA claims the decision was not politically motivated, even though they issued a statement that Trump’s remarks about Mexican immigrants were “inconsistent with our strong commitment to an inclusive and welcoming environment in the game of golf.” The Donald was not happy about this statement.
  • The LPGA, PGA, and USGA have not made any public statement about Trump’s disrespectful comments towards women.
  • The LPGA has also not made any public statement in opposition to the Women’s Open being held at the Trump resort.
  • Trump still does not have a blind trust set up for his assets.
  • Action: Go to the USGA
    • Post a message on their Facebook page.
    • Tweet a message at them.
    • You can also email, call, or write.
    • Here is the general message (too long for a tweet): “We are disappointed that the US Golf Association is holding the Women’s Open at Donald Trump’s resort. The LPGA has a nearly 70 year history and is one of the world’s premier women’s professional sports organizations. Donald Trump has consistently disrespected women. By holding the Women’s Open at his resort, the USGA is disrespecting women too.”
  • Action: While this tour is being planned by the USGA the LPGA has not made any public statement addressing Trump’s disrespect towards women. Here is theLPGA site, along with social links and contact information. Please let them know that all-of-us expect them to stand with women. Here is the general message: “We are disappointed that the Ladies Professional Golf Association has not made a public statement denouncing Donald Trump’s offensive comments about women. The LPGA has also not asked the USGA to move the Women’s Open to another location. We expect more from an organization with a long and proud history of standing with women.”

  1. “Republicans in Congress are ramming through fast-tracked legislation (H.J. Res. 66) that would block states like California, Oregon, Maryland, Illinois, and Connecticut from helping their citizens save money for retirement. The Department of Labor issued a legal ruling last year giving states the OK to provide a new savings option to workers who are not offered a 401(k) or other retirement plan at their job. Given how unprepared most Americans are for retirement, this made perfect sense — workers should have more opportunities to save and retire with dignity, not fewer. But Republicans disagree — in order to keep their Wall Street benefactors fat, happy, and shielded from competition, they are pushing legislation that would rescind the Labor Department regulation. The legislation has passed the House and will likely be considered in the Senate shortly.” (this and the following from https://www.indivisibleguide.com)

  • Action: Call your representative (for me, this is Peter Welch 802-652-2450 or https://welch.house.gov/contact/email)
    1. Script: Good morning/afternoon! Can you let me know the [Senator’s/Representative’s] position on H.J.Res. 66, the Congressional Review Act resolution that would rescind the Labor Department’s rule on state retirement plans?

OPTION 1: OPPOSES THE RESOLUTION [MEANING THEY SUPPORT THE STATE RETIREMENT PLANS]
Staffer: Thank you for calling! Senator/Representative Bob opposes the resolution.
Caller: That’s great! I’m calling to say that if [Senator/Representative] Bob truly believes, as I do, that there is a retirement savings crisis, then [he/she] should do everything [he/she] can to stop Congress and the Trump Administration from blocking state retirement plans. This means making public statements standing with the millions of Americans poised to benefit from these state programs and calling out the Wall Street special interests that are trying to shield themselves from competition.
I’m happy to hear the [Senator/Representative] opposes H.J.Res. 66. Will [he/she] commit to voting against this resolution if it comes up for a vote?
OPTION 2: SUPPORTS THE RESOLUTION [MEANING THEY OPPOSE THE STATE RETIREMENT PLANS]
Staffer: Thank you for calling! Senator/Representative Bob supports the resolution.
Caller: That’s terrible. What that means is [Senator/Representative] Bob is choosing to enrich Wall Street special interests over [his/her] hard-working constituents trying to save for retirement. States should have the right to help their OWN citizens save their OWN money for retirement. The alternative is more seniors living in poverty and relying on public assistance. There is a retirement crisis in America: nearly one-half of all private sector workers are not offered a retirement plan at work. We need to make sure that anyone who wants to save for his or her retirement can do so. These state programs would expand access to retirement plans so that the millions of hard-working Americans currently left behind can start saving. Why would [Senator/Representative] Bob want to block these state plans?
Staffer: But the Labor Department rule exempts state retirement plans from important consumer protections and would create an unworkable patchwork system, with each state having their own plan.
Caller: That’s wrong. The rule simply clarifies that employers who enroll their workers in the state’s retirement plan will not face any administrative or legal burden. The state itself is taking on those responsibilities since small business owners should be able to focus exclusively on running their business without sacrificing their workers’ retirement security. Each state has the right to set up its own plan if it so chooses. Would [Senator/Representative] Bob prefer that the federal government block states from making their own decisions, leaving millions of Americans left without a way to save for retirement?
OPTION 3: DODGES / HAS NO POSITION
Staffer: Thank you for calling! I don’t know about state retirement plans or H.J.Res. 66, but I’m happy to take down your concerns.
Caller: That’s disappointing to hear–this is a very important issue for millions of Americans, myself included. By trying to block state retirement plans, Congress is choosing to enrich Wall Street special interests over [Senator/Representative] Bob’s hard-working constituents trying to save for retirement. States should have the right to help their OWN citizens save their OWN money for retirement. The alternative is more seniors living in poverty and relying on public assistance. There is a retirement crisis in America. Did you know that nearly one-half of all private sector workers are not offered a retirement plan at work?
Staffer: I didn’t know that but I’m happy to take down your concerns.
Caller: Here’s my concern: We need to make sure that anyone who wants to save for his or her retirement can do so. These state programs would expand access to retirement plans so that the millions of hard-working Americans currently left behind can start saving. I expect [Senator/Representative] Bob will represent [his/her] constituents, like me, and not Wall Street. I expect [Senator/Representative] Bob to oppose H.J.Res. 66.
Will [Senator/Representative] Bob vote against this attempt to block state retirement plans?
Staffer: I will certainly pass on your concerns to the Senator/Representative.
Caller: Please do, and please take down my contact information to let me know when the [Senator/Representative] has made up his mind. I’m eager to hear what [he/she] decides.


  1. Show some gratitude

THINGS TO KEEP AN EYE ON

Last week’s newsletter reported of dangers to the Consumer Financial Protections Bureau. Leahy has since released a statement expressing his opposition to any effort to remove the current Director of the Bureau https://www.leahy.senate.gov/press/senators-to-pres-trump-do-not-remove-consumer-financial-protection-bureau-director-cordray

On Thursday, House took a step towards defunding Planned Parenthood. http://www.vox.com/identities/2017/2/16/14598032/congress-states-defund-planned-parenthood-title-x

GROUPS TO FOLLOW/SUPPORT

Concerned about 45’s threats to go after the leaks on him? Support the Electronic Frontier Foundation and the Fund for American Diplomacy (from https://www.project1461.org/daily-call-to-action/)

Concerned about the government deleting information? Support and partner with the DataRefuge Project and Hack the Stacks, two groups working to protect government data that’s at risk of being scrubbed by the Trump administration (from https://www.project1461.org/daily-call-to-action/)