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Call Your MoCs and Demand They Enforce Sanctions Against Russia, Dammit, May 22, 2018 Edition

Call your MoCs to demand enforcement of sanctions against Russia.

 

Sarah Jane here. While I was sick with the flu back in January 2018, I wrote a few posts asking folks to call their MoCs and demand that they pressure President Trump to impose the sanctions on Russia for meddling with the 2016 election, which Congress passed with a veto-proof margin.

 

Trump’s shrugging off of the deadline and refusal to impose the sanctions has gotten some attention, but not enough, because ridiculous scandals continue to happen.

 

It should not get lost, and I am determined that it won’t.

 

Trump should not be allowed to ignore the will of 530 members of Congress. In my opinion it’s one of the worst, scariest signs of sliding into authoritarianism. We need to push back, and keep pushing back. And given that almost everyone in Congress feels the same way, we have leverage here.

 

We did see a small amount of progress on March 15, 2018, when the Trump administration accused Russia of hacking vital American infrastructure and imposed sanctions on 19 individuals, including the 13 that Special Counsel Robert Mueller indicted in February 2018. While the move is welcome, it’s not what we’re asking for. The administration still needs to obey Congress and impose the damn sanctions on Russia already.

 

We also saw progress on March 23, when Trump signed an omnibus spending bill that included measures that push back against Russia in various ways. It was also good news when the administration announced it would expel 60 Russian officials from America and close the Seattle consulate over the nerve agent attack on Sergei Skripal and his daughter in Britain.

 

And as of April 4, we’ve seen reports that the administration might sanction Russian oligarchs. See the stories:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/trump-administration-to-impose-fresh-sanctions-against-russia/2018/04/04/bc09e0b8-3851-11e8-b57c-9445cc4dfa5e_story.html?utm_term=.943e72ddd109

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-russia-sanctions/u-s-plans-to-sanction-russian-oligarchs-this-week-sources-idUSKCN1HB34U

 

But! The sanctions that Congress called for have still not been imposed.

 

And! We saw a serious setback on April 16, 2018, when the Trump administration walked back a new round of sanctions against Russia, throwing the U.S. Ambassador to the U.N., Nikki Haley, under the bus in the process. Larry Kudlow, director of the National Economic Counsel, evidently claimed she “might have gotten confused”. Read a New York Times story on the walk-back:

 

Haley, for her part, is Not Having It as of April 17, 2018, when she told CNN, “With all due respect, I don’t get confused.” Kudlow later apologized for his remarks. Read a Vox story on Haley’s pushback:

https://www.vox.com/2018/4/17/17249652/nikki-haley-russia-sanctions-larry-kudlow-response

 

We at OTYCD will continue to devote at least one post per week to the Russian sanctions issue until the Trump administration does what Congress told it to do.

 

This is the entry for May 22, 2018.

 

Below is more material from other past posts, plus a Celeste Pewter calling script. Please stay on this, and please spread the word. Thanks!

 

 

On Monday, January 29, 2018, the Trump administration was due to enforce sanctions imposed on Russia for meddling in our elections, as required by a 2017 law.

 

The administration brushed off the requirement by claiming the threat of the sanctions was deterrent enough.

 

After I wrote a combo Nunes memo-Russia sanctions enforcement post yesterday, Senator Claire McCaskill got to the heart of the problem in a tweet she sent late on January 29, 2018:

 

Congress voted 517-5 to impose sanctions on Russia. The President decides to ignore that law. Folks that is a constitutional crisis. There should be outrage in every corner of this country.

 

To my horror, the implications of Trump’s act are getting ignored, or crowded out by other horrible things.

 

Please, call your members of Congress and demand that they call Trump out for this. He cannot just brush off a law passed with a veto-proof majority. McCaskill is right–it’s a constitutional crisis. Please call.

 

Here’s your @Celeste_Pewter calling script for that topic:

 

 

Since Celeste prepared that calling script, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein announced the indictments of 13 Russians for interfering in the 2016 Russian election.

 

Read the Washington Post‘s story about the indictments, which came down on February 16, 2018:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/russian-troll-farm-13-suspects-indicted-for-interference-in-us-election/2018/02/16/2504de5e-1342-11e8-9570-29c9830535e5_story.html?utm_term=.be1dd2d76f9d

 

The indictments also make Trump’s refusal to impose the sanctions that Congress voted overwhelmingly to impose that much more flagrant and disgusting. It also makes it that much more important that we at OTYCD stay on this topic and spotlight it until Trump finally does what he should have done back in late January 2018.

 

Here I will reproduce more useful info from past OTYCD post that quote Celeste Pewter and Alexandra Erin.

 

Celeste Pewter (@Celeste_Pewter) helped me keep sane with a series of tweets on January 31, which I’ll reproduce:

 

Ok. I keep seeing certain threads about Russian sanctions/authoritarianism being RTed into my TL, so I think it’s important to have some facts on what Congress can and cannot do to address the WH’s decision. Start with this:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-fix/wp/2018/01/30/even-if-trump-is-blatantly-ignoring-the-russia-sanctions-law-theres-not-a-lot-congress-can-do-about-it/?utm_term=.3b1222b2389a

 

Then follow it up with this:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-fix/wp/2018/01/30/the-trump-administrations-weird-explanation-for-withholding-russia-sanctions/?utm_term=.1821cef97d99

 

I think it’s easy (and understandable) to say: “Rule of law is deaaaaad!” but the question now becomes: What are YOU going to do about it? Senator tweeted this: [She quotes the tweet I reproduce above]

 

Yes, be outraged. But more importantly, channel your outrage. The WaPo article I listed lists four options for Congress to respond to this; these are the three most likely. Your elected work for you. Demand they make any three (or even all three) happen. [She includes a screenshot of the three things, from the first Washington Post piece above.]

 

Don’t just sit around waiting for government to collapse; if you’re truly as upset as all of your RTs seem to indicate – I’m getting a bit [thinking face with arched eyebrow emoji] with the fatalism – then make sure you call and make your electeds hear your voice. Yes, this includes GOP electeds.

 

If you’ve followed me long enough, you’ll know I used to be a constituent affairs director for an elected. Trust me when I say: staff will let their boss(es) hear it, if their phone lines are ringing off the hook. We want it to stop so we can do other work.

 

We want our bosses to give us solutions to make it stop. So make it happen w/ these Russian sanction calls. Make the constituent team know you don’t accept this, and you will keep calling, until they are so tired of you, they will demand the office do something.

 

I’ve said this before, and I’ll say it again: we are many, and they are few. Do you really want these sanctions dictated by a few wankers in the administration? No. This time, you even have a bipartisan majority of the House and the Senate on your side. You have the power.

 

Here also are Alexandra Erin (@alexandraerin)’s January 31, 2018 tweets on the topic:

 

There are a pair of recent moves, from the State Department and the Treasury Department, which suggest that in year two of Trump’s reign, the regime is being a lot less circumspect about being in Putin’s pocket, with less ego-clashing feud and less smoke-and-mirrors resistance.

 

Now, you might recall that back in 2017, Congress passed laws calling for tough new sanctions to punish Russia for its election interference. There was a lot of speculation about whether Trump would sign this act, but he finally did, grudgingly and complaining the whole time.

 

In the United States system of government, the theory is that Congress passes the law, and the executive branch *executes* them, hence the term. Trump as chief executive is the chief one responsible for carrying out laws passed by Congress.

So guess where this is going.

 

Monday, January 29th, was the deadline for the executive branch to impose the sanctions, as prescribed in the bill that Donald Trump personally signed into canon as the law of the land.

It came and it went.

 

The law called for the Treasury Department to help guide the sanctions by producing an investigative report of oligarchs and businesses linked to Putin.

 

Serious, lifetime-career experts at the Treasury Department prepared that report, which was then thrown out and replaced with a copy of the Russian Forbes 100 list plus a few public Putin associates and a disclaimer that it’s not a list of people who should face sanctions.

 

And Rex Tillerson, secretary of state and obvious Yosemite Sam pseudonym, told Congress that they haven’t imposed actual sanctions because the threat of sanctions is proving an effective deterrent. Slap on the wrist, everybody learned a valuable lesson. No actual penalty.

 

The actual implementation strategy here is to let everyone else know that doing “significant transactions” with certain Russia-linked entities may result in penalties for the other party. But it’s entirely discretionary. No actual rules per se.

Team America: World Secret Police.

 

This gives the Trump regime a valuable tool for looking tough (Trump’s favorite way to look), a free hand for Putin, and a way to arbitrarily impose sanctions on countries or other entities that Trump or Putin want to weaken.

 

With nothing actually in writing about what transactions get penalized, we could easily see a situation where a group that does significant business with the Ukraine and also had an incidental transaction in Russia gets hit with sanctions for violating the unwritten rules.

 

Or anybody backing dissidents and opposition politicians in Russia. The sub-basement floor is the limit with these guys.

 

I don’t think we are quite at “Treasury and State Department overtly help Putin crush his enemies” territory yet. Nope. But one year and change in to Trump’s rule, and we are at “Treasury and State Department overtly shield Putin and his cronies from consequences” territory.

 

And while it’s not a surprising shift, it is a marked shift from where they were last year, and the main thing that has changed is what year it is. Time makes Trump normal. The passage of the year changed his dislike of the sanctions from an outrage to the way things are.

 

And with Trump’s feet-dragging opposition to the sanctions accepted as the new normal, his executive branch failing to execute them becomes a natural progression of time rather than a startling departure from all norms of governance and the rule of law.

 

So you’ve really got to ask yourself, what would the start of a year 3 of Trump look like? How far would he be able to go after his next calendar reset? How far can he push things between now and then?

 

…this prompted Cathy R to tweet,

So now what? No further actions!? What can be done?

 

Alexandra Erin answered:

 

Talk about it. Spread awareness of it. Make sure everybody you know knows that it’s happening. Post it on your Facebook. Put it in an email forward to your uncle. The right does these things, and it shapes the way people think about politics, and vote.

 

Talk is not the only action required, but talk is an action that is required. There is a national discourse. We have to be shaping it.

 

Believe it or not, talking about the regime’s corruption is doing something. Talking about the resurgence of overt Nazism and white nationalism is doing something. Being willing to talk about these things, to label them as they are rather than accepting them as normal, helps.

 

We could be calling Congress to light a fire under them to demand the executive branch actually execute these things, to write newer, more specific, and tougher sanction laws, but to be honest: the public engagement and awareness aren’t there yet to get the critical mass needed.

 

So step one is: talk about it. Talk to people about it. Get people talking about it. The executive branch is flouting the rule of law, Trump is ignoring a law he himself signed into existence.

 

The right has a hundred talking points about why Russian interference doesn’t exist or doesn’t matter or helped Clinton or whatever. But none of that addresses the fact that Trump signed this law. He made it the law of the land. And he’s ignoring it.

Elections · Save These Tools

Learn How Every Member of the House of Representatives Voted on the GOP Tax Bill

Bookmark this New York Times article, which shows how all 435 members of the House of Representatives voted in November 2017 on the GOP tax bill.

 

We at OTYCD included a link to this article in one of the daily updates we did on the GOP tax bill in the leadup to the vote. We wanted to break it out in a separate post, with a dedicated headline, so you can find it and reference it more easily.

 

The story spotlights the votes of 28 Republican house members who represent districts in states with relatively high state and local taxes (these taxes are sometimes identified with the acronym SALT). Since the article appeared on November 16, 2017, Ed Royce, a California Republican who voted yes on the bill, has decided not to run again. Another California Republican, Darrell Issa, has also declared plans to retire from his seat, but he voted against the bill.

 

If you’re wondering how the Senate voted and why it didn’t get its own article–that body voted in favor on party lines, 51-48. If your senators are Republicans, they voted yes. If yours are Democratic or Independents, they voted no.

 

Only one Republican House Rep changed his position between the November vote and the final approval in December 2017–Republican Tom McClintock, representative of California’s 4th District, went from a No in November to a Yes in December. GOP leadership evidently pressured New Jersey Republican Rodney Frelinghuysen to flip to a yes, but he resisted.

 

See the New York Times piece detailing how every House member voted on the GOP tax bill:

 

Read also about how California House Rep Tom McClintock was the only Republican to change his vote on the GOP tax bill, switching from no to yes. It also mentions the pressure that New Jersey Republican House Rep Rodney Frelinghuysen faced, but resisted:

https://www.rollcall.com/news/policy/house-passes-tax-overhaul-members-change-november-vote

 

Subscribe to One Thing You Can Do by clicking the button on the upper right of the page. And tell your friends about the blog!

Community Activism · Read, Educate Yourself, Prepare · Thank You Actions · Use Your Power, Recruit Friends · Vote with your Dollars

Support The Guardian, the Newspaper That Ben Jacobs Works For

This OTYCD entry originally posted in May 2017.

Support The Guardian, the British paper that employs reporter Ben Jacobs. 

By now you’ve heard about how Greg Gianforte, Republican candidate for the open house seat representing all of Montana, snapped and attacked Ben Jacobs, a reporter for The Guardian. Jacobs is evidently OK and Gianforte has since been charged with a misdemeanor. (Gianforte also won the Congressional race.)

While we wish we had a more pleasant prompt, we’re taking it. The Guardian is a good newspaper, and has long been a good newspaper. It deserves your attention and your support.

 

Read the links below, and if you like it, become a supporter of The Guardian:

https://membership.theguardian.com/us/supporter?INTCMP=DOTCOM_HEADER_BECOMEMEMBER_US

 

Here’s Jacobs’s video report on his bizarre encounter with Gianforte:

https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/video/2017/may/25/guardian-ben-jacobs-body-slam-video-greg-gianforte

 

Here’s the story Jacobs filed with The Guardian shortly before the infamous meeting:

https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/may/25/montana-special-election-gianforte-assault-charge-guardian

 

Here’s the story that Jacobs wrote that probably played a role in pissing off Gianforte:

https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/apr/28/greg-gianforte-republican-candidate-congress-russia-companies

 

And here’s another story by others at The Guardian on the consequences that Gianforte suffered shortly after attacking Jacobs:

https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/may/25/newspapers-ditch-us-republican-charged-with-assaulting-guardian-reporter-montana

 

 

Community Activism · Save These Tools · Use Your Power, Recruit Friends

Remember to Donate to Food Banks During the Summer Months, When Schools Are Closed

Remember to make a point of donating to your local food banks during the summer months, when schools are closed.

 

Students who receive free and reduced-price school meals can suffer during the summer, when their schools close. Their schools are often their most reliable source of nutritious meals. While many communities have programs that feed children under 18 during the summer, not all do.

 

It’s almost a cliche to volunteer at soup kitchens and food banks during Thanksgiving and Christmas, but summer is when the need can be keenest.

 

Food donations are always welcome at food banks, but donations of money are even more effective. Also ask your food bank if they accept donations of diapers, toilet paper, and feminine hygiene products, which cannot be purchased with food stamps.

 

 

Find your nearest food bank:

http://www.feedingamerica.org/find-your-local-foodbank/

 

 

Donate to the AmpleHarvest.org food pantry network:

http://ampleharvest.org/donate-m1/

 

 

Find the nearest summer meals program in your community:

https://www.fns.usda.gov/summerfoodrocks

 

Read, Educate Yourself, Prepare · Voting Rights, Fighting Voter Suppression

Read What an Expert on Authoritarian Thinking Told John Dean About Trump Supporters

This OTYCD entry originally posted in November 2017.

Read a piece by John W. Dean–yes, the John W. Dean who served as counsel to President Nixon in the early 1970s–in which he talks to Bob Altemeyer, a retired psychology professor who specialized in authoritarian thinking, about Trump supporters.

Altemeyer authored the books The Authoritarian Specter, Right Wing Authoritarians, and Enemies of Freedom. He talks with Dean about how Trump supporters think, why they think that way, and what it would take to get them to change their thinking.

It’s not an inspiring read, so we’re going to jump to the end and quote Dean’s final paragraph:

“With that information in mind, from someone who may understand Trump supporters better than Trump does, it is clear that to prevail in 2018 and 2020, Democrats must focus on getting sympathetic non-voters to the polls, and bring back into the fold the anti-Hillary folks, who suffered from Clinton exhaustion—voters who are clearly not right-wing authoritarians.”

Read Altemeyer on Trump Supporters, which Dean wrote as an entry for his column on the Verdict website:

https://verdict.justia.com/2017/07/07/altemeyer-trumps-supporters

 

…Once you’ve done that, go to our “Voting Rights, Fighting Voter Suppression” category, pick something that sounds good to you, and act.

 

You can also subscribe to Verdict, the folks who publish Dean’s column:

http://law.justia.com/subscribe

Russian Scandal, Emoluments Clause · Save These Tools · Stand Up for Civilization · Stand Up for Norms

See and Save This Running Tally of Donald Trump’s Conflicts of Interest as President

See and save this running tally of Donald Trump’s conflicts of interest as president.

 

Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) was sounding the alarm bell about Trump’s potential violations of the Constitution’s Emoluments clause before he took office.

 

They were the ones who brought suit against Trump for violating the clause. (The case was dismissed in October 2017, with the judge essentially saying that CREW did not have standing to sue, and only Congress could decide what an Emoluments violation looks like.)

 

Because Trump refused to divest from his business empire as president, CREW has continued to document potential violations.

 

Trump Inc: A Chronicle of Presidential Conflicts lays out a timeline of problematic actions that date back to January 25, 2017.

 

 

See it here, and please bookmark it for future reference.

https://www.citizensforethics.org/trump-timeline/?timeline-category=1023

 

 

Subscribe to One Thing You Can Do by clicking the button on the upper right of the page. And tell your friends about the blog!

 

 

Here also is the main website for CREW:

https://www.citizensforethics.org

 

 

Donate to CREW’s work:

https://actionnetwork.org/fundraising/match?amount=100

 

 

Like CREW on Facebook:

https://www.facebook.com/citizensforethics

 

 

Follow it on Twitter:

@CREWcrew

 

 

Read about the CREW vs Trump lawsuit:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/judge-dismisses-lawsuit-alleging-trump-violated-constitution/2017/12/21/31011510-e697-11e7-ab50-621fe0588340_story.html?utm_term=.e600d8bc319e

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/volokh-conspiracy/wp/2017/10/01/the-emoluments-clauses-litigation-part-5-problems-with-the-complaints-in-crew-v-trump/?utm_term=.f54660353677  (This is an opinion piece)

http://joshblackman.com/blog/2017/10/20/analysis-of-oral-arguments-in-crew-v-trump/ (This is a lawyer analyzing the oral arguments in the case)

https://www.newyorker.com/news/news-desk/are-the-emoluments-lawsuits-filed-against-president-trump-dead

 

Candidates · Choose Your Core Four · Elections

GOOD UPDATE! Support Conor Lamb’s Run for a Pennsylvania House Seat in a March 2018 Special Election

This OTYCD entry originally posted in January 2018.

 

Update March 24, 2018: This was a nail-biter. Lamb had a slight but clear lead of 627 votes by the end of the night on March 13, 2018–a margin that was smaller than half a percentage point, and smaller than the number of votes cast for the Libertarian candidate. A recount begun on Friday, March 16 increased Lamb’s lead slightly, nudging it past 800 votes.

 

Republican opponent Rick Saccone called Lamb to concede the election on March 21. Lamb will lead Pennsylvania’s 18th District until November, when new electoral maps, designed to combat the effects of pro-Republican gerrymandering, go into effect. Lamb will run in the 17th District, and Saccone will run in the 14th District.

 

Read a Washington Post story about the conclusion of the Pennsylvania special election:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/powerpost/wp/2018/03/21/republican-rick-saccone-concedes-defeat-to-conor-lamb-in-pennsylvania-special-election/?utm_term=.fab09594cdc3

 

Original text of the post follows:

 

Support Democrat Conor Lamb’s run for the open house seat in Pennsylvania’s 18th district. The special election takes place on March 13, 2018.

 

Lamb, 33, is a former federal prosecutor who did notable work tackling the opioid crisis in and around Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He is also a veteran of the Marine corps, where he rose to the rank of captain. He comes from a political family; his grandfather and his uncle prominently served in high-profile state posts.

 

Lamb is facing Republican state rep Rick Saccone, who likes to say that he “was Trump before Trump was Trump.” Lamb has never held elected office, and PA-18 has a strong Republican reputation. Given the overperformances by Democrats in special elections and state and local elections since Trump was elected, the Democrats believe that Lamb has a decent shot at the House seat.

 

Republican Tim Murphy vacated the seat in October 2017 after news broke that the pro-life Congressman had evidently urged a pregnant mistress to abort. He had held the Congressional seat since 2003.

 

 

See Lamb’s campaign website (scroll down for his bio):

https://conorlamb.com

 

 

Consider Lamb for your Core Four for 2018 (if he wins the special election, he’ll be up for re-election in November 2018; if he loses in March, he could choose to run again):

https://onethingyoucando.com/2017/12/24/choose-your-core-four-for-2018/

 

 

Subscribe to One Thing You Can Do by clicking the button on the upper right of the page. And tell your friends about the blog!

 

 

Donate to Conor Lamb:

https://secure.actblue.com/donate/lamb-for-congress-1

 

 

Like him on Facebook:

https://www.facebook.com/ConorLambPA/

 

 

Follow him on Twitter:

@ConorLambPA

 

 

See Ballotpedia’s page on Pennsylvania’s 18th District:

https://ballotpedia.org/Pennsylvania%27s_18th_Congressional_District_special_election,_2018

 

 

Read about the Democrats choosing Lamb for the special election (there were no primaries in this case):

http://www.post-gazette.com/news/politics-local/2017/11/19/Conor-Lamb-Democrats-pick-replace-Tim-Murphy-18th-Congressional-district/stories/201711190199

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/powerpost/wp/2017/11/19/democrats-pick-former-federal-prosecutor-for-special-congressional-election-in-pennsylvania/?utm_term=.a8c9eb22c663

 

 

Read a Politico story about how the Lamb-Saccone contest could be a bellwether for the 2018 midterms:

https://www.politico.com/story/2017/12/23/republicans-brace-for-competitive-pennsylvania-house-race-316206

 

 

Read about the circumstances of Murphy’s retirement from Congress:

https://www.politico.com/story/2017/10/04/tim-murphy-abortion-mistress-243456