Call Your State Legislators · Stand Up for Civilization · Stand Up for Norms

Fight Back If Your State Wants to Pass A Law That Lets Drivers Escape Liability for Hitting Protestors

This OTYCD entry originally posted in August 2017.

Is your state working on a law that would lighten or lift punishments for drivers who hit protestors with their cars? Call your state legislators and tell them to vote no or stop progress on that bill. 


Months ago, in the depths of winter 2017, we at OTYCD were grossed out enough to ask readers who live in North Dakota to oppose HB 1203, a bill that would lessen legal penalties for drivers who hit protestors with their cars:


It failed to pass the North Dakota house by a too-close-for-comfort margin of 50 to 41. But apparently some sick individuals who got elected to state office elsewhere in the country thought that HB 1203 was a good idea and introduced their own versions in their home legislatures. (You get one guess as to what their party affiliations are.)


According to a CNN story linked below, these five states have joined North Dakota in pursuing bills that would make it easier for drivers to hurt or kill protestors with their vehicles and escape punishment or receive what amounts to a slap on the wrist. The bill numbers are included:



Rhode Island, HB 5690. Introduced in March but has since been held, per the state’s House Judiciary Committee, for more study.



North Carolina, HB 330. Introduced in March. It passed the house in April on a 67-48 vote and is now with the state’s Senate Committee on Rules and Operations. It could proceed from there to broader consideration in the state senate.



Tennessee, SB 944 and HB 668. The house version is dead, but the Senate version is still alive, sitting with the Senate Judiciary Committee.



And so you’re aware:


Florida‘s senate and house introduced bills along these lines in February and March, respectively. Both have since died.


The Texas house introduced HB 250 last month during its legislative special session. It was referred to the House Judiciary and Civil Jurisprudence Committee and was still there when the session ended on Aug 15.


So, what should you do?


If you live in any of the four states where the bills are not-quite-dead, call your state legislators and make it damn clear that you expect them to let these bills die in committee or vote against them if they come up. If your reps happen to be sponsors of one of these bills, ask them to remove their support. If you live in one of the two states where bills were introduced, but died, call and make it clear that you expect the bills to stay dead. And if you live anywhere else? Call your state reps, mention these bills, and make it clear that you want them to stop any such bill before it starts.


Here’s how to find your state legislators. You have a state senator and a state house rep. Plug your street address into this search engine to find them:



Sample script for state legislators who are from the four states that have not-quite-dead-yet bills: “I am (Firstname Lastname, from town, zip code). I am asking state senator/house representative (Lastname) to oppose (Bill ID goes here), which would shield drivers from the consequences of accidentally hitting protesters who block a roadway. It was a sick idea before that guy attacked those protestors in Charlottesville, and it’s an even worse idea now. Please do everything you can to stop its progress. If you are a sponsor, please remove your support, thank you.”



Sample script for state legislators from the two states where bills were introduced, but died: “I am (Firstname Lastname, from town, zip code). I realize that (Bill ID goes here) has essentially died and can’t become law in the current session, but I am asking state senator/house representative (Lastname) to make sure it stays dead and is not revived in a future session. The bill would have shielded drivers from the consequences of accidentally hitting protesters who block a roadway. It was a sick idea before that guy attacked those protestors in Charlottesville, and it’s an even worse idea now. Please do everything you can to stop its progress. If (State Senator/House Rep Lastname) co-sponsored the bill, I am asking (him/her) to please withdraw support. Thank you.”



Sample script for those of us in the 44 other states: “I am (Firstname Lastname, from town, zip code). In the wake of the horrifying car attack on protestors in Charlottesville, I learned that six states had been pursuing bills that would lessen or remove penalties on drivers who hit or killed protestors with their cars. I realize there is no such bill moving through our state legislature now but I am asking State Senator/House Rep (Lastname) to oppose such a bill if anyone tries to introduce one. Thank you.”



See the CNN story from August 19, 2017 on states’ efforts to lessen penalties on drivers who injure protestors:



See a similar story from a British paper (warning: It includes a graphic image from the Charlottesville attack):



Read about backlash to these bills after the terrorist incident in Charlottesville that killed Heather Heyer and injured 19:



Read state-level coverage of various laws (warning–some of these stories include links to eyewitness videos taken of the attack in Charlottesville):


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Action Alerts · Ethics · Russian Scandal, Emoluments Clause · Stand Up for Civilization · Stand Up for Norms

Tell Congress to Tell Trump to Fully Comply With The Emoluments Clause

This OTYCD entry originally posted in June 2017.

Tell your House Rep that you want Trump to comply with the Constitution by fully and properly tracking the payments that his businesses receive from foreign governments.


A previous OTYCD post noted how Trump was in violation of the Constitution the day he took office, because of the Emoluments clause, which states that the president cannot receive gifts or payments from foreign governments. Having hotels and resorts all over the world–Washington D.C. included–with his name on them complicates the matter significantly.


In order to have a hope of complying, Trump has to track all the payments his many and varied business entities receive. Initially, his organization promised that it would donate all the profits it earned from foreign governments to the U.S. Treasury.


Well, on May 24, the Trump organization said it was not going to do the full due diligence required to be in compliance with the Emoluments clause, evidently because it’s just too damn hard. In an eight-page pamphlet it sent to the House Oversight Committee, it stated:

“To fully and completely identify all patronage at our Properties by customer type is impractical in the service industry and putting forth a policy that requires all guests to identify themselves would impede upon personal privacy and diminish the guest experience of our brand.”


Elijah Cummings, minority leader of the house committee, shot back with deserved anger, saying the pamphlet “raised grave concerns about the president’s refusal to comply with the Constitution.”


We at OTYCD are asking you to back Cummings up by calling your house reps and demanding that the Trump organization do everything it can to get right with the Constitution, even if it’s wildly inconvenient. The sanctity of the Constitution is more important than the “guest experience” at Trump’s properties.


If your house rep IS Elijah Cummings, call him to thank him for doing the right thing.


Otherwise, riff off of this sample script:

“Dear House Rep (Lastname), I am (Firstname Lastname, from town, zip code), and I am calling to ask you to demand that the Trump organization do everything it can to prove that its business entities are in compliance with the Emoluments clause of the Constitution. In late May, the organization said it would not do the work involved in confirming that its entities were respecting the Constitution because doing so might affect the quality of the “guest experience” at Trump hotels and resorts. Well, maybe Trump should have thought that through before he ran for president. The Constitution is priceless. The guest experience at Trump properties is not. If his guests have to suffer a little to ensure that the Constitution receives due respect, that’s a small price to pay, and Trump can eat it.”



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Read about the Trump organization’s refusal to fully comply with the standards required by the Constitution:



Read the eight-page pamphlet that team Trump prepared for the House Oversight Committee:



Read Elijah Cummings’s rejoinder:

Community Activism · Fighting Bigotry, Racism, Sexism, Homophobia, Transphobia...

Learn to Fight Systemic Racism By Reading This Ijeoma Oluo Piece

Read Welcome to the Anti-Racism Movement–Here’s What You’ve Missed, an insightful piece by writer Ijeoma Oluo.

If you’re waking up to the injustices that Black Lives Matter is pointing out, and you want to do what you can to fight white supremacy and its effects, you will want to read this undated piece.

In summary:

Don’t expect to be coddled or celebrated for showing up to the fight now.

Do keep your eyes open and your mouth shut, at least until you get up to speed–same as you would when you arrive on any scene that’s been around far longer than you have.

If you have a question, google it first and see if it’s been answered. (It probably has.) Asking POC to educate you adds to their burden when they’re already grappling with the burden of fighting systemic racism.

Accept that you’ll put your foot in your mouth, early and often. Brace yourself for awkward moments and learn how to handle them with grace and calm.

Fighting white supremacy and systemic racism is painful, horrifying, crazy-making, and outrageously uncomfortable. But never forget that white folks have the privilege of facing this truth when they choose, and POC have to live with it 24/7/365.


Read Welcome to the Anti-Racism Movement–Here’s What You’ve Missed:


Like Ijeoma Oluo on Facebook:


Follow her on Twitter:








Good News · Use Your Power, Recruit Friends

Subscribe to Small Victories and Feel Good About Pushing Back

This OTYCD entry originally posted in Dcember 2017.

Subscribe to Small Victories, a weekly newsletter that chronicles how everyone, the world over, is pushing back against Trump, the Republicans, and the horrors they stand for.


Two activists who go by the names Alison and Stephanie launched Small Victories, a newsletter that gathers a week’s worth of good news–some things you’ll have heard about, and others you might have missed–in one handy package.


Do not underestimate the value of periodic, reliable deliveries of good news in the Trump era. It can be easy to lose sight of the wins, what with all that’s going on. Signing up for something like Small Victories counts as an act of self-care.


Sign up for Small Victories here:


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Postcard Campaigns

Join the Postcards for America Page on Facebook and Keep Bombarding Trump with Postcards

This OTYCD entry originally posted in March 2017.

The OTYCD page on joining #TheIdesOfTrump–the effort to bury Trump in postcards on March 15–is the most popular in the young blog’s history.

Seeing as you all have such an appetite for sending postcards, we’re doing a post on one or our favorite Facebook activist pages: Postcards for America.

Its main goal is to encourage you to send postcards to your members of Congress about your fears and concerns. But it also alerts you to other postcard campaigns and suggests legislators who might benefit from receiving great wobbling piles of postcards that tell them they’re wrong, or in some cases, exquisitely correct and in need of thanks.

Apply for admission to the Postcards for America Facebook group:

Please note: Postcards for America is a closed group. You can apply to join and you will have to wait for an administrator to approve you before you are admitted.


Action Alerts · Call Your Members of Congress

Call Your MoCs and Ask Them to Leave the Iran Nuclear Deal Alone

This OTYCD entry originally posted in October 2017.

Call your members of Congress and ask them to leave the Iran nuclear deal as is unless the Iranians actually do something to violate it. 


True to his nature as a chaos orangutan, Trump decided on October 13, 2017 that the nuclear weapons crisis with North Korea wasn’t enough, and he wanted a matching set.


He refused to certify an accord that the U.S. and several other countries had negotiated with Iran to prevent it from acquiring nuclear weapons–this despite the fact that all parties involved, including the U.S. government, agree that Iran is in compliance. Aspects of the accord have to be reconfirmed every 90 days.


He evidently made this move with the approval of his national security team, who counseled him to decertify it without killing it. See this October 3, 2017 piece from The Hill for more:


As stated above, Trump really is kindling chaos here. He has articulated no real reason to do what he’s doing being just not liking the status quo. He has no good suggestion on what to do instead. And refusing to certify the deal is NOT, repeat, not, akin to cancelling it. His move won’t have any immediate effect, direct or indirect.


What Trump has done, in effect, is to kick the deal back to Congress, which can choose to impose sanctions on Iran. It shouldn’t impose sanctions because everyone agrees Iran is holding up its end of things. If it did impose sanctions, Congress would kill the accord.


If that happens, the Iranians would probably steam ahead with a program to build a nuclear weapon. This seems almost too obvious to mention, but no one wants a world in which Iran has nukes, and not just because it’s a bad idea to increase the number of countries that have them. If Iran gets a nuke, it’d probably drop it on Israel sooner or later, just because.


It’d probably also increase the likelihood of war with North Korea, because killing the Iran accord would make the U.S. look unstable and untrustworthy. If we walk away from Iran when it was doing what we asked it to do, why should anyone honor any other deal that our nation makes?


So, this is an odd one for OTYCD and for you all, in that we’re going to ask you to call your MoCs and ask them to… do nothing. Explicitly do nothing. If nothing happens, the Iran thing drifts back to Trump’s desk at some point, and he can recertify or not.


Sample script for your MoCs: “Dear House Rep/Senator (Lastname), I am (Firstname Lastname from town, zip code). I am calling to ask you to do nothing with the Iran nuclear deal, which Trump just kicked back to you by failing to recertify it. Just leave it be unless we get evidence that Iran is in violation of the deal. To date, the Iranians have complied. Please do not impose any sanctions. If we do that, we will hurt America’s reputation and make it that much more difficult for us to draw and enter international treaties and deals in the future. Thank you.”



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Read about Trump’s refusal to recertify the Iran deal, the potential fallout from that refusal, and what might happen next:



Read an August 2017 New York Times piece on how nuclear inspectors agree that Iran is complying with the terms of the accord:


Action Alerts · Call Your Members of Congress · Stand Up for Civilization · Stand Up for Norms

Ask Congress to Open an Investigation Into the Ambush in Niger That Killed Four American Servicemen; Also, Donate to the Deceased Green Berets’ GoFundMe Accounts

Ask Congress to open its own investigation into the incident in the African country of Niger that killed four American servicemen in early October 2017, and donate to the GoFundMe pages of the three Green Berets who died in the attack.


If the Trump administration wasn’t a 24/7 crisis generator, the Niger ambush would be getting the attention that it’s due. Instead, it’s been smothered under a pile of outrages.


First, a recap: On October 4, 2017, twelve American troops, along with about 30 Nigerian soldiers, were attacked by an ISIS-affiliated group near the town of Tongo Tongo in Niger, a country in central Africa. The American-Nigerian group was on what was considered a routine patrol. The attacking group had about 50 militants in it. An hours-long battle ensued that killed five Nigerians and four Americans: Staff Sargent Bryan C. Black; Staff Sargent Dustin M. Wright; Sargent La David Johnson; and Staff Sargent Jeremiah W. Johnson. All but Jeremiah Johnson were Green Berets.


The Pentagon is investigating, but it’s still not clear exactly what happened, and why. Information continues to drip out. The four who died were somehow left behind. The bodies of three of the men, along with their interpreter, were found hours after the area was evacuated. La David Johnson’s body was recovered about two days after the incident. Reportedly, he was found with bound arms and a gunshot wound in the back of his head, which might mean that he was caught and executed.


Subsequent investigations by a team from the U.S. military and the FBI turned up additional remains belonging to La David Johnson. The Pentagon expects to finish its inquiries in January, but finishing does not necessarily mean that it will publicly release its findings then.


Regardless of what the Pentagon discovers, we at OTYCD feel it’s a good idea to ask your MoCs to open an investigation into the Niger ambush. Arizona Senator John McCain had been aggressively shining the spotlight on the incident, and the need to know what happened. With McCain ailing due to brain cancer, he may not be able to continue to press the case.


By showing your MoCs that you remember the Niger incident, and you want answers, you encourage them to keep it on the radar.


Do either of your Senators sit on the Senate Committee for Armed Services? Then it’s extra-important for you to call. See its members here:


Does your House Rep sit on the House Committee on Armed Services? Then it’s extra-important for you to call. Here’s its list of members:



Calling script: Dear (House Rep/Senator Lastname), I am (Firstname/Lastname from town, zip code). I am calling to encourage you to seek a Congressional investigation into the October 4, 2017 ambush in Niger that left four American servicemen dead. I realize the Pentagon is investigating and might be finished in January 2018, but I feel it is important for Congress to launch its own inquiry, and I’d support you in seeking one. The families of the servicemen who died deserve answers, as does the American public. Thank you for listening.”



Note also that as of December 31, 2017, the GoFundMe for the college educations of La David Johnson’s three children was still open, and had raised more than $731,000 against its $1 million goal. Donate here:



The GoFundMe for the two young sons of Green Beret Bryan C. Black is still open as of December 31, 2017. It has raised more than $55,000 of its $200,000 goal:



The GoFundMe for the family of Green Beret Dustin M. Wright remains open as of December 31, 2017. It has collected more than $53,000 against its $150,000 target:



Read about the October 2017 ambush in Niger:


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