Call Your Members of Congress · Community Activism · Stand Up for Civilization · Use Your Power, Recruit Friends

Help Americans for the Arts #SaveTheNEA

Sick of the attacks on the budget of the National Endowments for the Arts (NEA)? So are we, and so is Americans for the Arts, a 57-year old organization that’s on the case.

One of the more tiresome and obnoxious threats coming out of the Trump administration is its attack on the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA). Like previous Republican administrations, it wants to zero out its budget. Like previous administrations, it cares not one whit for the good it does, or the value it provides us all.

Americans for the Arts is on the front lines of the fight to save the NEA. Founded in 1960, it is standing up for the federal agency’s work and for the transformative power of the arts. It deserves your support.

See the link below for a sample script you can use when calling your members of Congress to defend the NEA:

https://www.votervoice.net/ARTSUSA/Campaigns/47344/Respond

See the Americans for the Arts web page:

http://www.americansforthearts.org/about-americans-for-the-arts

Like Americans for the Arts on Facebook:

https://www.facebook.com/americans4arts

Follow it on Twitter:

@Americans4Arts

Donate to Americans for the Arts:

https://secure.artsusa.org/eweb/DynamicPage.aspx?Site=AFTA&WebKey=dced7381-1480-44b8-a371-39269bf4c68e&action=add&dnr_cst_key=&ObjectKeyFrom=F41B6E06-299B-4022-BE6F-0641BA87DE59&gft_src_key=e3097f34-633a-4d70-93e0-f6c36f75baa6&AFTAToken=08e6495f-2570-4c9a-9f4d-a2dfb2a2df32&AFTAToken=

…And for that matter, visit the NEA web site:

http://www.arts.gov

Like its Facebook page:

https://www.facebook.com/NationalEndowmentfortheArts

…And follow its Twitter account:

@NEAarts

Call Your Members of Congress · House Bills, Federal · Senate Bills, Federal

Tell Congress to Raise the Debt Ceiling

Tell your MoCs to raise the federal debt ceiling, cleanly, and with no funny-business riders attached to the bill.

The government will soon run out of money, again. In order to meet federal obligations, Congress will have to raise the debt ceiling–the maximum sum that the government is legally allowed to borrow–and soon. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin recommended doing it before Congress adjourns for the summer recess.

But the conservative Republicans in the House Freedom Caucus are making unpleasant noises about allowing a shutdown. In a May 24 press release, it demanded budget cuts before it would agree to raise the debt ceiling.

To be clear–raising the debt ceiling lets the government pay for things it has already agreed to pay for. We committed to spending the money. If we don’t spend it, we’ll stiff people who are depending on our payments, including Social Security recipients and Medicaid patients. In other words, if we don’t raise the ceiling, we will injure the creditworthiness of the United States, and the last thing we need right now is to lower the world’s reputation of the U.S. even more than Trump has already lowered it.

What you need to do: Call your MoCs and demand that they vote to raise the debt ceiling without piling any pet-project bills onto it. That means voting for the raise ‘cleanly.’

Important. Is your house rep a member of the House Freedom Caucus? Then it’s extra-important that you call and demand a clean vote to raise the debt ceiling.

Click this link and scroll down to ‘Membership’ to see if your house rep is in the Freedom Caucus.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Freedom_Caucus

 

Sample script: “Dear (Senator/House Rep Lastname), I am calling to ask you to cast a clean vote to raise the government’s debt ceiling, when the time comes. We need to fulfill the promises that we made, and we cannot take the risk of shutting down the government. Please do not attach any other bills, however worthy, to the debt ceiling bill to ensure its clean passage.”

 

Read about the need to raise the debt ceiling:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2017/05/24/trump-administration-warns-tax-receipts-are-coming-in-slowly-government-could-run-out-of-cash-sooner-than-expected/?utm_term=.1e23618edc36

https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/onpolitics/2017/03/14/mcconnell-we-will-raise-debt-ceiling-but-timing-unclear/99175620/

 

Read a 2013 article about what happens when we don’t raise the debt ceiling when it’s needed:

http://www.businessinsider.com/what-will-happen-if-we-dont-raise-debt-ceiling-2013-1

Call Your Members of Congress · Stand Up for Civilization · Use Your Power, Recruit Friends

Call your MoCs and Tell Them to Protect the National Endowment for the Arts

Call your members of Congress and tell them to defend the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) from any attempts to defund or abolish it.

When Republicans gain control of the government, a few rusty old issues always come up. Abolishing the NEA is one of them.

Republicans inevitably claim that they want to kill the NEA to save money, but it only receives $148 million, which represents 0.004 percent of the federal budget.

We citizens get a lot for that meager sum. The arts stimulate the economy and have proven critical to reviving ailing cities and towns.

The NEA also does something that few outside the museum world appreciate: It backs indemnity agreements that allow U.S. museums to arrange for loans of art for exhibitions that they otherwise could not afford to insure. Remember the last blockbuster museum show you loved that had oodles of priceless canvases from Europe, or sculptures from Asia? If the NEA disappears, so do exhibitions like those.

The NEA does a lot of good with a small budget. It also represents a fundamental commitment to the arts and humanities that any nation must honor if it thinks of itself as civilized. French-born composer Edgard Varèse put his finger on it when he said, “Art is the highest expression and not a luxury–Where are the Egyptian bankers today? And Egyptian art survives.”

We know the Egyptians through their art. We know the Neanderthals through the images that they inscribed on the walls of caves. Art is how we speak to generations yet unborn. Art is what those generations will think of when they think of America. That’s why we need the NEA, and that is why we will always need the NEA. Don’t let Trump and Paul Ryan and his ilk kill it.

Sample script: “I am (Firstname Lastname, from town, zip code). I am asking (Senator/Representative Lastname) to fight against any attempt by the Trump administration to cripple or kill the National Endowment for the Arts. The NEA is one of the best bargains in the entire federal government. It helps museums arrange blockbuster shows by backing indemnity agreements that allow for loans of priceless art. If we lost the NEA, we would all feel it, and we would feel it deeply.”

 

Call Your Members of Congress · Community Activism · House Bills, Federal · Save These Tools · Senate Bills, Federal · Use Your Power, Recruit Friends

Save This Tool for Contacting Congress

 

Save this convenient web site that shows you how to contact any member of Congress.

The very first post on OTYCD was about how to find your three members of Congress. It’s advocacy 101, yes. Even still, this tool is worth saving.

It’s really well-designed and gives a handy overview of EVERYONE in Congress, with their photos, contact info, location, district, social media accounts, plus when they were first elected and when they’re due for re-election.

http://contactingcongress.org

Special thanks to @theonetruebix for the tip and the site.

Call Your Members of Congress · Ethics · Russian Scandal, Emoluments Clause · Stand Up for Norms · Use Your Power, Recruit Friends

Tell Your MoCs You Want Jeff Sessions to Resign

UPDATE: We first published this post months ago, when the news of Sessions’s problematic statements under oath broke. We’re putting this post back in heavy rotation now that we know Sessions was involved in the firing of FBI director James Comes, which appears to be a violation of his promise to recuse himself from matters touching on Trump’s ties to Russia.

Scroll down for an updated sample script to use when calling your senators to ask for the resignation of U.S. Attorney Jeff Sessions.

Call your members of Congress and say that you want Jeff Sessions to resign over statements he made during his Senate confirmation hearings that could constitute perjury.

A previous blog post asked you to call your members of Congress and demand that Sessions recuse himself from any investigations arising from the Russia scandals. On March 2, Sessions finally agreed to that–but that was pretty much because news broke that he gave answers during his January Senate confirmation hearings that could constitute perjury.

During the hearings, Senator Al Franken asked Sessions, under oath, what he would do if “there is any evidence that anyone affiliated with the Trump campaign communicated with the Russian government in the course of this campaign.”

Sessions responded: “I have been called a surrogate at a time or two in that campaign, and I didn’t have —did not have communications with the Russians, and I’m unable to comment on it.”

The Washington Post reported on March 1 that Sessions had in fact spoken with Russian ambassador Sergei Kislyak in July 2016 and again in September 2016.

Republicans, or at least those who have ventured to speak on the topic, are calling it a “grave omission” or calling for Sessions to “clarify his testimony.” They are not using the p-word. It can be argued that what Sessions said was highly misleading, but not severe enough to qualify as perjury. Even still, it still looks bad enough that Sessions should resign. Unlike the statements that Bill Clinton made under oath about Monica Lewinsky, Sessions’s statements under oath about whether or not he had contact with Russian officials is a serious matter of national importance.

 

Important note: Is your house rep part of the House Judiciary Committee? Is one of your senators on the Senate Committee on the Judiciary? Then it’s extra-important for you to call. Check these links before dialing.

House Judiciary Committee:

https://judiciary.house.gov/subcommittee/full-committee/

Senate Committee on the Judiciary:

https://www.judiciary.senate.gov/about/members

 

Special note if one of your senators is Ron Wyden, Democrat of Oregon: Call and thank him for demanding that Sessions resign for disobeying his recusal in helping to fire Comey. See more in the link below:

http://thehill.com/homenews/administration/332767-dem-senator-calls-on-sessions-to-resign-amid-comey-firing

 

Sample script, updated as of May 10: “I’m (Firstname Lastname, from town, zip code). I’m calling to ask (Representative/Senator Lastname) to ask you to demand that U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions resign over his involvement in the firing of FBI director James Comey. After the Washington Post showed that Sessions had made problematic statements during his cabinet confirmation hearings about his contacts with Russians, Sessions agreed to recuse himself from matters related to Trump and Russia. His involvement in Comey’s firing flouts his promise to recuse himself. In showing Comey the door, he proves that he is not fit to hold the office of U.S. Attorney General. Please demand that he leave his post.”

 

Here are some more links about Jeff Sessions and his involvement in the Comey firing:

http://thehill.com/homenews/administration/332671-dem-senator-sessions-recommendation-to-fire-comey-a-complete-betrayal

http://thehill.com/homenews/administration/332651-sessions-was-told-to-find-reasons-to-fire-comey-reports

https://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2017/5/10/15610862/sessions-rosenstein-comey-justice-fbi

http://reason.com/blog/2017/05/10/jeff-sessions-defense-of-james-comey-con

 

Original Sample script: “I’m (Firstname Lastname, from town, zip code). I’m calling to ask (Representative/Senator Lastname) to ask you to demand that U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions resign over statements he made during his Senate confirmation hearings that have since proven false. While under oath, he stated that he did not have communications with the Russians, but the Washington Post has since proven that he spoke with the country’s ambassador in July and September. Even if his statement doesn’t technically rise to the level of perjury, which is debatable, he should go. We can’t have an attorney general who is clouded by credible accusations of perjury.”

Read the WaPo story that confirmed that Sessions had spoken twice with the Russian ambassador, though he had made claims to the contrary under oath:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/sessions-spoke-twice-with-russian-ambassador-during-trumps-presidential-campaign-justice-officials-say/2017/03/01/77205eda-feac-11e6-99b4-9e613afeb09f_story.html?tid=pm_pop&utm_term=.f0bd6863a631

 

See this handy New York Times timeline, which contains the Franken-Sessions exchange cited above:

Read this eye-opening New York Times op-ed from a former ethics adviser to President George W. Bush:

 

Another NYT story on how Republicans now agree Sessions should recuse himself, but can’t bring themselves to say he perjured himself during his Senate confirmation hearing testimony:

 

 

 

 

 

 

Call Your Members of Congress · Community Activism · Read, Educate Yourself, Prepare

Learn the Best Way to Talk to Your Congressional Representatives

Congress is about to do something that you feel strongly about. You need to tell your representatives what you think. But what’s the best way to do that?

This blog post will help you learn the most effective way to make your voice heard.

First, you need to learn who your Congressional representatives are. Go read the first One Thing You Can Do post, Self-advocacy 101: Find Your Congressional Representatives.

Once you have the names of your reps and their contact information in hand, think about why you are calling, how your reps can act on your request, and which reps you should call.

Sometimes you will need to call all three–both senators and your house rep. Other times, you’ll need to call only your senators, or only your house rep. It is important to call only those who can help you. Senators can’t assist with house matters, and house reps can’t address things handled by the senate.

Other things that interest you might be better directed at someone else–your state-level legislative reps, your local school board, your governor, your mayor. Think about what, specifically, you want your Congressional reps to do. If they don’t have the power to act on your request, don’t call them. Find out who does have the power, and call them instead.

After you’ve learned who to call, compose a short script on the topic you want to discuss. It should be no more than five sentences–equivalent to an extremely short blog post or two tweets’ worth of material.

Your script needs to include your name, your zip code, why you are calling, and what specific action you want your representative to take on your behalf.

Shorter is better. Writing and following a script will help you avoid rambling.

 

Example for a Senator: I am (Firstname Lastname), from zip code (12345), and I wanted to ask Senator (Lastname) to oppose the nomination of Jeff Sessions to the office of the Attorney General of the United States. His civil rights record is abysmal, and it should disqualify him from this critical post. (If your senator is on a relevant committee, say, ‘I know Senator (Lastname) is on the Judiciary Committee. I am asking the senator to vote against Sessions in Committee.’) Thank you.

 

Example for a House rep: I am (Firstname Lastname), from zip code (12345), and I wanted to ask Representative (Lastname) to vote against H.R. 2802, the so-called First Amendment Defense Act. It would allow bigots to discriminate against LGBTQ people under the cover of religion. Please uphold the rights of gays, lesbians, transgender people, and others by fighting to defeat this bill. Thank you. (Note to readers–this is a real House bill. OTYCD will address it in a future post.)

 

Be impeccably polite to the person who answers the phone. If the topic you need to talk about makes you too angry, rehearse your script until you can say the words without getting mad.

Giving your name and zip code is key. It lets their staff know you are a real person who lives in the area they represent. They do not count, or act on, calls from people who live elsewhere; their actual constituents’ needs come first, as they should.

Calling is the best method of reaching your Congressional representative. While many Congressional representatives are active on social media, they and their offices don’t give much weight yet to statements that come to them through social media platforms, even if they’re from genuine constituents. Don’t tweet, Snapchat, or Facebook it–call!

Email is second to calling. Postal mail can matter, but might arrive too slowly, depending on the situation. If you can use the phone, do it.

 

 

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