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Self-advocacy 101: Find Your Congressional Representatives

FWIW: This is the first-ever post to OTYCD, uploaded on January 7, 2017.

Before you can start pushing back against Trump, you need to know who represents you in Congress.

Find out who your Congressional representatives are by plugging your zip code and your state into this web site:

http://whoismyrepresentative.com/

This web site is better for learning who stands for you in the House of Representatives (plug in your zip code and it will narrow the choices to two. The name that seems more familiar to you is probably your House rep):

http://www.house.gov/representatives/find/

Once you have pinned down your two Senators and your House Rep, pull up their web pages. Scroll to the bottom. If their offices aren’t listed there, go to the Contact page and find them.

Pick the state office that is closest to you (*NOT the Washington D.C. one).

Find the phone number for that office.

Put it in your phone.

Repeat for your other two representatives.

Done!

* You can put the Washington, D.C. numbers in your phone, but call them last. You are far more likely to reach a real person if you call the district offices.

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Follow Your Congressional Reps on Social Media

Are you active on social media, even a little bit? Are you thinking about signing on?

Please follow the pages and accounts of your Congressional representatives.

Pull up the web pages of your three Congressional reps–your two senators and your house rep. Social media platform logos tend to show up at the top of the home page or the bottom. If they’re not there, try the Contact page.

Most members of Congress are on Facebook and Twitter. If they’re on other platforms and you want to follow them there, go right ahead. But don’t feel like you must follow them on every platform. Do what makes sense for you.

If any of your reps are not on social media, or aren’t on the platform you like best, call their offices and ask them to join. You can bet there’s an intern or entry-level staffer who’s been chewing the rep’s ear off, trying to make their case. If enough constituents call to ask them to get on social media, or on a specific platform, that might change their minds.

Following your reps on social media is worth it. It keeps you up to date on what they’re saying and doing, and lets you know when they might appear at an event happening near you. It lets you show your support for them. And it helps move toward a world in which members of Congress take messages that arrive through social media as seriously as requests that come over the phone or through postal mail.

But don’t forget that for now (early 2017), social media is the least effective way to speak to your reps. If you need to ask your members of Congress to do something, use the phone. Do not use social media. Your message will not get through to them.

If you’re not on social media at all, consider signing up to follow your reps. You can have a private account on Twitter, and you can keep strict privacy settings on your Facebook page.

If you’re not on social media at all and have no wish to be, sign up for their e-newsletters and postal mailings instead, if you haven’t already. You should be able to do this through their web sites.

 

Call Your Members of Congress · Online Privacy, Net Neutrality

Defend Net Neutrality and Keep the Internet a Level Playing Field for All

Call your members of Congress and tell them to fight any Republican and Trumpian efforts to dismantle net neutrality, which ensures that the Internet remains freely open to all, regardless of how much money you have or the type of content you produce.

Tech types, free speech advocates, and others have long defended net neutrality, a bundle of concepts that together ensures that the Internet is freer and fairer for all by requiring Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to treat all content equally.

For example, net neutrality policies ensure that rich companies cannot pay extra to have their sites load faster than their less wealthy challengers in the marketplace. It also prevents ISPs from deliberately slowing down the load times of sites by content providers who compete with them.

Defenders of net neutrality had successfully fought off many attempts to destroy it, and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) had favored it under Obama. Unfortunately (and I’m sure you’re so surprised) Trump appointed Ajit Pai, one of net neutrality’s keenest enemies, to head the FCC. One of the first things Paid did was prevent nine companies from offering discount high-speed internet service to poor people.

The Trump administration has also announced that net neutrality is officially in its sights. (Scroll down for a NYT story on this and for other background pieces on net neutrality.)

Incidentally, this is a different issue from that affected by H.J. Res 86, which takes away Internet privacy protections from consumers. They’re only related in the sense that Republicans and Trump are favoring the wishes of companies over the needs of ordinary people.

The Republicans and Trump will have a harder time trying to dismantle net neutrality. Apple and Google have been active defenders, as have entities such as the Electronic Freedom Foundation (EFF). In other words, there’s greater awareness of the need for net neutrality and its champions have more experience with fending off attacks. But we need to come to their aid now.

If we don’t, the Internet will go from a level playing field to one that favors wealthy, well-known companies over under-funded upstarts.

Important: Before you call, check the site below. (You might need to scroll down a bit). It will show you how all your members of Congress stand on net neutrality–in favor, undecided, or against. Learn where they stand, then add a line at the end of this script thanking them for standing up, urging them to defend net neutrality, or asking them to change their minds.

 

https://www.battleforthenet.com

 

Sample script: “Hello, I am (Firstname Lastname, from town, state). I am calling to ask Senator/House Rep. (Lastname) to do everything possible to defend the notion of net neutrality from those who want to destroy it. If net neutrality goes away, it will create two Internets–one for the well-connected and wealthy, and a slower, shabbier version for everyone else. Please stand up and reject any attempts to wreck net neutrality, whether it comes from Ajit Pai, head of the FCC, or your Congressional colleagues, or Trump. Thank you.”

 

 

 

Read how the Trump administration plans to target net neutrality soon:

Read about how Trump’s FCC chairman, Ajit Pai, is against net neutrality:

More about what the loss of net neutrality means, and why big Silicon Valley companies such as Facebook, Apple, etc., should be up to defend it:

https://phys.org/news/2017-02-net-neutrality-silicon-valley.html

 

And more, from the same source, on how to defend net neutrality. Short answer: “Raise hell.”:

https://phys.org/news/2017-02-defend-net-neutrality.html

 

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Call Your MoCs and Make It Damn Clear You Expect Them to Condemn Trump Forcefully for Yesterday’s Racist Remarks

Call your MoCs, all three of them, and make it damn clear that you expect them to condemn Donald Trump himself, specifically, by name, for his disgusting remarks of yesterday (August 15).

These last few months have been stomach-turning and bizarre. Trump keeps bringing us lower, and lower, and lower, leaving us to wonder when he will take us to the bottom.

Well, he just might have hit bottom on the afternoon of August 15, when he essentially walked back his comments on Charlottesville, doubled down on bothsidesism, and pretty much equated Confederate general Robert E. Lee with George Washington and Thomas Jefferson. Holy crap. Just, holy crap. It is hard to know what to say. It is hard to know where to start.

Probably best to send you directly to Politico‘s transcript of the impromptu press conference, so you can see the batshittery for yourself:

http://www.politico.com/story/2017/08/15/full-text-trump-comments-white-supremacists-alt-left-transcript-241662

Before you call your MoCs, check their social media feeds. If they have condemned Trump’s initial round of remarks on Charlottesville, acknowledge that. (Don’t thank them for that, just acknowledge you saw their statements. No one gets a cookie for saying Nazis are bad, FFS.)

If one or more of your MoCs have said nothing at all, about any of Trump’s Charlottesville statements? CALL THEM OUT. Politely, but forcefully. Never be rude. You can be angry, and you can get that anger across, without being rude. Honest.

If your MoCs are Republican, it is extra-important for you to call.

If one of your MoCs is Speaker of the House Paul Ryan or Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, it is super-mega-extra important for you to call.

Basic script for a Democratic MoC who spoke out against Trump’s Charlottesville comments: “Hi, I’m (Firstname, Lastname, from town, zip code), and I’m calling (Senator/House Rep Lastname) to thank them for speaking out against Donald Trump’s disgusting, racist remarks about Charlottesville. I would also ask them to support any efforts to remove Confederate monuments from public lands around the country, and support any efforts to restore the scope of the federal Countering Violent Extremism (CVE) program–widening its focus to include homegrown white supremacist terrorists. Trump’s administration urged that it be reworked to exclude white supremacist terrorists and focus only on Islamic terrorism. Thank you.”

Alternate script for a Democratic or Republican MoC who inexplicably hasn’t said anything about any of Trump’s Charlottesville comments: “Hi, I’m (Firstname, Lastname, from town, zip code), and I’m calling (Senator/House Rep Lastname) to ask that they go on record and speak out against Donald Trump’s disgusting, racist remarks about Charlottesville. I looked at their social media feeds and didn’t see anything along those lines, which is why I ask. I would also ask them to support any efforts to remove Confederate monuments from public lands around the country, and support any efforts to restore the scope of the federal Countering Violent Extremism (CVE) program–widening its focus to include homegrown white supremacist terrorists. Trump’s administration urged that it be reworked to exclude white supremacist terrorists and focus only on Islamic terrorism. Thank you.”

 

Basic script for a Republican MoC who might have said something about the earlier Trump comments on Charlottesville, but hasn’t spoken out about the August 15 comments, or did so without calling out Trump by name or by his POTUS title: “Hi, I’m (Firstname, Lastname, from town, zip code). I wanted to thank (Senator/House Rep Lastname) for speaking out about Trump’s earlier comments on Charlottesville, but I would ask that they step up a second time and address Trump’s disgusting, racist comments of August 15, and condemn him by name. I looked at their social media feeds and didn’t see anything along those lines, which is why I ask.”

“I would also ask them to support any efforts to remove Confederate monuments from public lands around the country, and support any efforts to restore the scope of the federal Countering Violent Extremism (CVE) program–widening its focus to include homegrown white supremacist terrorists. Trump’s administration urged that it be reworked to exclude white supremacist terrorists and focus only on Islamic terrorism. Thank you.”

 

Special script for constituents of Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, and other Republican Congressional leaders: “I’m (Firstname, Lastname, from town, zip code). I wanted to thank (Senator/House Rep Lastname) for speaking out about Trump’s earlier comments on Charlottesville, but I would ask that they use their power as Republican leaders to condemn what Trump said on August 15 and make it unambiguously clear that those attitudes are utterly repugnant and against what the party stands for.”

“I would also ask them to support any efforts to remove Confederate monuments from public lands around the country, and support any efforts to restore the scope of the federal Countering Violent Extremism (CVE) program–widening its focus to include homegrown white supremacist terrorists. Trump’s administration urged that it be reworked to exclude white supremacist terrorists and focus only on Islamic terrorism. Thank you.”

 

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Call Your MoCs and Ask Them to Investigate the Yemen Raid

Call your members of Congress and ask them to investigate the January 27 raid in Yemen, in which a Navy Seal lost his life along with as many as 29 civilians.

Less than a week after taking office, Trump gave the go-ahead to an attack on the central Yemen home of a suspected Al-Qaeda collaborator. Unfortunately, everything that could have gone wrong went wrong. Navy Seal Ryan Owens died along with as many as 29 civilians, possibly including an 8-year-old American girl. An Osprey aircraft valued at $75 million had to be deliberately scuttled to prevent Al-Qaeda from taking possession of it.

The military is now conducting an investigation of the raid. But Trump’s administration has not yet launched its own investigation. Bill Owens, father of the dead Navy Seal and himself a veteran of the Navy and the Army Reserves, has asked for a full probe of the mission.

Owens declined to meet Trump when his son’s body arrived in the United States. He was annoyed when White House Press Secretary invoked Ryan Owens’s sacrifice when deflecting criticism of the raid.

In early February, the Washington Post quoted Spicer saying: “The action that was taken in Yemen was a huge success. American lives will be saved because of it, future attacks will be prevented. The life of Chief Ryan Owens was done in service to this country, and we owe him and his family a great debt for the information that we received during that raid. I think any suggestion otherwise is a disservice to his courageous life and the actions that he took, full stop.”

(White House deputy press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders has since said that she “would imagine that [Trump] would be supportive of that [an investigation into the Yemen raid].”)

Owens has since countered Spicer’s words in a February 27 Miami Herald article: “Don’t hide behind my son’s death to prevent an investigation.”

It’s entirely possible that the mission was plagued by bad luck. It happens. But given the loss of life and the circumstances surrounding the choice to go ahead when it did, Owens is right to demand a formal, public investigation of the incident that claimed his son.

Does your house rep belong to the House Armed Services Committee? Is one of your senators a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee? Then it’s extra-important that you call. Check the links below before dialing:

House Armed Services Committee:
Senate Armed Services Committee:
Sample script: “Hello, I am (Firstname Lastname) from (town, zip code). I’m calling (Senator/Rep Lastname) to ask for a formal investigation into the Yemen raid that Trump pursued in late January. Early indications show that it went poorly, yet White House press secretary has deflected criticism by claiming that questioning the raid is a disservice to the Navy Seal who died in it. That Navy Seal’s father has explicitly asked for a full investigation. I ask you and your colleagues to pursue one.”
Read about the Yemen raid, and what went wrong:
 https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/feb/01/yemen-strike-eight-year-old-american-girl-killed-al-awlaki
Read how Spicer defended the Yemen raid and invoked the sacrifice of Ryan Owens to deflect criticism:
Read about how the raid may have been a bust, goal-wise:
Read the Miami Herald articles on Bill Owens and his call for an investigation of the raid that killed his son:
Read the article in which Deputy Press Secretary Sanders gives her opinion that Trump would be open to a probe:
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Save This Tool for Tracking MoC Appearances Near You

 

You know how important it is to attend Town Hall meetings, public forums, and other events where your members of Congress appear in person to speak with their constituents and take questions.

Some clever, determined, energetic people have created the Town Hall Project 2018. It evolved from a spreadsheet of all the events scheduled by MoCs, be they Town Hall meetings, district office hours, ticketed events, or conference call-Town Halls. Now all you have to do is plug in your zip code and voila! It’ll show you all the relevant events happening within 75 miles.

Save this tool for tracking events where your members of Congress will take your questions and meet with you:

https://townhallproject.com

 

Like the Town Hall Project 2018 Facebook page:

https://www.facebook.com/TownHallProject/?hc_ref=SEARCH

 

Follow the Town Hall Project 2018 on Twitter at the handle below and the #TownHallProject2018 hashtag:

@townhallproject

 

 

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

Ask your MoCs to Do Right by the 2020 Census

Ask your members of Congress to fully fund the 2020 Census and ensure that it has a competent, non-partisan director.

The resignation of John H. Thompson, the U.S. Census Director, was easy to miss. It happened the same day that Trump fired FBI Director James Comey. Thompson quit because he felt the 2020 census was being woefully underfunded. His final day on the job will be June 30.

The government uses the census to allocate resources in vital areas such as education, law enforcement, and housing. The census can also change how Congressional districts are drawn, with states gaining or losing house reps based on their populations.

A look at Trump’s campaign rhetoric, cabinet choices, and overall governing style shows his contempt for facts and for gathering accurate data, regardless of the aim. A look at the FY2018 budget shows that the only resources the Trump administration is keen about allocating are those bound for the military. And as for reshaping the Congressional district maps? That’s only of interest to Trump and friends if it means creating more Congressional Republicans, or eliminating Congressional Democrats, or both.

The 2020 census will guide policy and shape the Congressional map for the next 10 years. We have an obligation and a duty to ensure that it’s fully funded and that it’s guided by a good, upstanding director.

Please call your members of Congress and ask them to give the U.S. Census the funds that it’s asked for, and to choose a competent, nonpartisan director.

Sample script: “I am (Firstname Lastname, from town, zip code), and I’m calling to ask (House Rep Lastname) to support full funding of the 2020 census and to back a competent, nonpartisan choice for its new director. The census is a huge project, and an important one. It gathers data that helps determine which Americans get which resources for a decade to come. It also has the power to reshape the Congressional map, creating and eliminating them as needed. Please do what is needed to ensure the success of the 2020 census, and please push back against any poor choices that the Trump administration might make.

 

Read about Thompson’s resignation, and the implications of that:

http://www.sciencemag.org/news/2017/05/departure-us-census-director-threatens-2020-count

http://www.npr.org/2017/05/11/527990617/u-s-census-bureau-director-john-thompson-abruptly-resigns

https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/social-issues/us-census-director-resigns-amid-turmoil-over-funding-of-2020-count/2017/05/09/8f8657c6-34ea-11e7-b412-62beef8121f7_story.html?utm_term=.4d4bdec3465d

https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/social-issues/census-watchers-warn-of-crisis-if-funding-for-2020-count-is-not-increased/2017/04/17/e6cc170a-20d6-11e7-a0a7-8b2a45e3dc84_story.html?utm_term=.b87ae3453624