Call Your Members of Congress · Community Activism · Read, Educate Yourself, Prepare · Use Your Power, Recruit Friends

Read This New Yorker Piece on What Calling Congress Achieves

Read What Calling Congress Achieves, a New Yorker piece that explores that question and gives a history of Americans calling their Congressional representatives.

 

It’s a long read, but a good one. The author not only explores what works and what doesn’t and why, and what a Congressional office would consider a “flood” of phone calls, she goes back to the late 19th-century beginnings of calling Congress.

 

The story is festooned with tasty little anecdotes and wonderful bits of evidence that calling and emailing Congress actually does something.

 

This paragraph, for example:

 

For political watchers, the most striking thing about this outpouring of political activism is its spontaneity. “If Planned Parenthood sends out an e-mail and asks all their donors to contact their Congress members—that’s honest, it’s real, it’s citizen action,” Fitch said. “But this thing was organic: people saw something in the news, it made them angry, and they called their member of Congress.” At this point, he paused and informed me that he was “not one for hyperbolic statements.” But what was happening was, he said, “amazing,” “unprecedented,” “a level of citizen engagement going on out there outside the Beltway that Congress has never experienced before.”

 

And this one:

 

Perhaps the most striking shift so far, though, has happened on the Democratic side of the aisle, in the form of a swift and dramatic stiffening of the spine. In the past month, at the insistence of constituents, the party line has changed from a cautious willingness to work with the White House to staunch and nearly unified opposition. “If you ask me, before the calls started coming in, someone like Neil Gorsuch”—Trump’s pick for the vacant Supreme Court seat—“would have passed with seventy-one votes,” said one Democratic senator’s chief of staff, who has worked on the Hill for close to twenty years. “Now I’d be surprised if he gets to sixty.” More generally, that staffer noted, the newly galvanized left is suddenly helping to set the Party’s agenda. In thinking about Cabinet nominations, Democratic members of Congress had planned to make their stand over Tom Price, then the nominee for Secretary of Health and Human Services—until their constituents chose Betsy DeVos. “That was not a strategic decision made in Washington,” the staffer said. “That was a very personal decision made by all these people outside the Beltway worrying about their kids. We’re not managing this resistance. We can participate in it, but there’s no chance of us managing it.”

 

Oh, and this one:

 

Republicans, of course, can’t manage the resistance, either—and, so far, they are struggling to figure out how to respond. Some have merely expressed frustration that so many calls are apparently coming from out of their district or state. But others, including Senator Marco Rubio, Senator Cory Gardner, and President Trump, have tried to discredit concerned citizens by claiming that they are “paid protesters,” an allegation supported by precisely zero evidence. Still others have expressed disingenuous outrage over political organizing, as when Tim Murtaugh, a spokesperson for Representative Lou Barletta, of Pennsylvania, criticized “the significant percentage who are encouraged to call us by some group.” And other legislators simply turned out not to like their job description. “Since Obamacare and these issues have come up,” Representative Dave Brat, of Virginia, said last month, “the women are in my grill no matter where I go.” In an apparent effort to dodge such interactions, a number of Republican legislators, including Representative Mike Coffman, of Colorado, and Representative Peter Roskam, of Illinois, have cancelled or curtailed town-hall meetings. Other G.O.P. legislators have allegedly been locking their office doors, turning off their phones, and, in general, doing what they can to limit contact with their constituents.

 

…but enough quoting. Go enjoy it for yourself.

 

Read What Calling Congress Achieves:

http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2017/03/06/what-calling-congress-achieves

 

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!

 

Subscribe to the New Yorker:

https://subscribe.newyorker.com/subscribe/newyorker/111547?source=AMS_NYR_ARTICLE_NAVBAR_MemorialDay_2017&pos_name=AMS_NYR_ARTICLE_NAVBAR

Call Your Members of Congress · Ethics · Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS)

Support Elizabeth Warren’s Call to Create a Code of Ethics for Members of the Supreme Court

Note from Sarah Jane: I wrote and queued this post before Brett Kavanaugh was nominated to SCOTUS. Senator Warren’s call, and the bill drafted by Senators Blumenthal and Murphy are that much more needed now.

 

Support Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren’s call to create a code of ethics for sitting members of the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS).

 

It might surprise you to learn this, but the nine judges who serve the Supreme Court are not bound by an explicit, formal code of ethics.

 

As with so many other things in a small-d democratic government, norms prevail. It is simply assumed that Supreme Court judges would conduct themselves impeccably, and would not do anything that would make them look partisan.

 

Well, guess what? Not all of them do, and the problem predates the Trump administration.

 

The late justice Antonin Scalia attended political retreats run by the notorious right-wing donor Charles Koch. He dined and hunted with then-Vice President Dick Cheney and declined to recuse himself from a SCOTUS case that involved him. He accepted more sponsored trips than any of his contemporaries on the court, and when he passed away in 2016, he was found dead in bed at a Texas hunting lodge owned by someone who had recently been involved in a potential SCOTUS case.

 

Warren complained after Neil Gorsuch, the man Trump appointed to Scalia’s seat after the GOP schemed to prevent hearings on President Obama’s choice, Merrick Garland, spoke at a September 2017 lunch at a Trump-branded hotel that was sponsored by the Fund for American Studies, a conservative group.

 

Without an ethics code in place to guide him, Gorsuch was free to say yes, but it would have been smarter for him to decline. It had ‘bad optics’ written all over it.

 

The fact remains, however–judges on lower courts are bound by ethical codes, but SCOTUS members are not. The example of Scalia, a smart man who stupidly dismissed claims of conflict of interest in the case involving Cheney by saying, “I do not believe my impartiality can reasonably be questioned,” and “If it is reasonable to think that a Supreme Court Justice can be bought so cheap, the Nation is in deeper trouble than I had imagined.”

 

You can be the most principled, ethical person who ever walked the earth and if you enjoyed the extracurriculars that Scalia did, it’d still look hinky. Because dammit, they look hinky. Why even go there?

 

With Trump stampeding norms like they’re houses of cards and Jenga stacks, it’s probably time to spell out, explicitly, what so many other past and current SCOTUS members understand without needing explainer documents. It’s time for a SCOTUS code of conduct.

 

Back in April 2017, Senators Richard Blumenthal and Chris Murphy, along with House Rep Louise Slaughter, introduced the Supreme Court Ethics Act of 2017. If passed, it would address the problem. The bill is S. 835 in the Senate and H.R. 1960 in the house.

 

Sample script for your MoCs: “Dear (House Rep/Senator Lastname,) I am (Firstname Lastname, of town, state). I am calling to ask you to support Senator Elizabeth Warren’s call to create a formal code of ethics for sitting members of the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS), and to ask you to support bills now in Congress that would create the code. Both bills are named the Supreme Court Ethics Act of 2017. In the Senate, the bill is S. 835, and in the house, it’s H.R. 1960.

We live in charged times, and Neil Gorsuch agreeing to speak to a conservative group at a Trump hotel property is the sort of thing he can do, but shouldn’t. His accepting the offer shows bad judgment on his part, and the last thing we want in a SCOTUS judge is bad judgment. Surprisingly, while members of lower courts are formally bound by a code of ethics, the nine who sit at SCOTUS are not. Given the off-duty adventures of the late Antonin Scalia and others, I think it’s time to support the creation of a set of binding guidelines that detail what SCOTUS members can and can’t do. It would improve the reputation of the court by giving it a means to show the public that it is fighting partisanship and the perception of partisanship. Thank you for listening.”

 

 

Read about Gorsuch’s speech, Senator Warren’s reaction, and calls to create an ethics code for sitting SCOTUS members:

http://thehill.com/regulation/court-battles/352920-gorsuch-speaks-at-trump-hotel-event-despite-criticism

http://thehill.com/homenews/senate/358163-warren-gorsuchs-links-to-koch-brothers-are-an-ethics-problem

https://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2017/11/01/supreme-court-ethics-problem-elizabeth-warren-opinion-215772

 

 

Visit the website of Fix the Court, a nonpartisan advocacy group that calls for ethics rules for SCOTUS:

https://fixthecourt.com

 

 

Like Fix the Court on Facebook:

https://www.facebook.com/FixTheCourt/

 

 

Follow it on Twitter:

@FixTheCourt

 

 

Donate to Fix the Court:

https://fixthecourt.com/donate/

 

 

See the GovTrack entries on The Supreme Court Ethics Act of 2017, both the Senate and the house versions:

https://www.govtrack.us/congress/bills/115/hr1960

https://www.govtrack.us/congress/bills/115/s835

 

 

Read about the late Antonin Scalia’s adventures away from the court, and his refusal to recuse himself in the Cheney case. In particular, see the 2016 New York Times article that included a sidebar that showed how often the nine justices travel:

http://www.cnn.com/2004/LAW/03/18/scalia.recusal/

 

Call Your Members of Congress · Marches and Protests · Russian Scandal, Emoluments Clause · Stand Up for Civilization · Stand Up for Norms

Continue the Work of the No One Is Above the Law Protests: Call Your MoCs to Demand Whitaker Recuse and Demand Investigation of Sessions’s Departure

Continue the work of the No One Is Above the Law protests: Call your members of Congress (MoCs) to demand that Matthew Whitaker recuse from the Mueller probe, and demand investigation of Sessions’s departure.

 

You got the call and answered it. You were out there at 5 pm local time at your No One Is Above the Law protest site. Thank you.

 

The next step is to carry on the work by calling your MoCs and demanding the following:

 

That acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker recuse himself from the Mueller probe; and demand investigation of the circumstances of Jeff Sessions’s exit from the Department of Justice (DOJ).

 

Whitaker is problematic on several levels, not least that an office of this level of importance requires the Senate to weigh in. Trump is evidently trying to avoid scrutiny by making him Acting AG. But, in a November 8, 2018 opinion piece for the New York Times, Neal Katyal and George Conway (Kellyanne Conway’s husband, btw), flatly assert that the move is unconstitutional.

 

Key paragraphs:

It means that Mr. Trump’s installation of Matthew Whitaker as acting attorney general of the United States after forcing the resignation of Jeff Sessions is unconstitutional. It’s illegal. And it means that anything Mr. Whitaker does, or tries to do, in that position is invalid.

Much of the commentary about Mr. Whitaker’s appointment has focused on all sorts of technical points about the Vacancies Reform Act and Justice Department succession statutes. But the flaw in the appointment of Mr. Whitaker, who was Mr. Sessions’s chief of staff at the Justice Department, runs much deeper. It defies one of the explicit checks and balances set out in the Constitution, a provision designed to protect us all against the centralization of government power.

If you don’t believe us, then take it from Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, whom Mr. Trump once called his “favorite” sitting justice. Last year, the Supreme Court examined the question of whether the general counsel of the National Labor Relations Board had been lawfully appointed to his job without Senate confirmation. The Supreme Court held the appointment invalid on a statutory ground.

 

Full article here:

 

Even if it was legal to appoint Whitaker, he has known biases against the Mueller probe, and they are on record. Those stated biases would legally compel him to recuse.

 

But Whitaker says he has no intention to recuse:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/trumps-acting-attorney-general-matt-whitaker-has-no-intention-of-recusing-from-russia-probe-associates-say/2018/11/08/a5bc8d90-e370-11e8-ab2c-b31dcd53ca6b_story.html?utm_term=.7c669d2b9229

 

As for the Sessions thing–the reason we need to ask for an examination of his exit is it appears to be a firing, but we need to clarify what happened. A firing requires elevating Deputy AG Rod Rosenstein to the role Sessions left. The wording of his resignation letter indicates he did not leave of his own volition–ergo, he was fired.

 

Celeste Pewter (@Celeste_Pewter), as always, is on top of it. What follows are her scripts for calling your House Rep and your Senators. Scroll down for word on how you can show your appreciation for Pewter.

 

Before you call, check Celeste’s Twitter feed, in case she’s issued updated scripts. Also, check the social media feeds of your MoCs, to see if they’ve made a statement on either matter. If they have, mention it in your calls.

 

Also! Before you call, check to see if your House Rep or one or both Senators are on their chamber’s Judiciary Committees. If they are, it’s extra-important for you to call.

 

Senate members listed here:

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

 

House members listed here:

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

 

Lastly–why it’s important to call. Going into the streets to protest is important and necessary. Backing those protests up with specific demands for your representatives makes for a one-two punch.

 

Here is the script for your House rep:

 

You can show love for Celeste Pewter in many ways.

 

You can follow her on Twitter: @Celeste_Pewter

 

You can tweet about calling your Senators, using the #ICalledMyReps hashtag.

 

You can follow @ICalledMyReps on Twitter.

 

And you can subscribe to her peerless newsletter, It’s Time to Fight:

http://itstimetofight.weebly.com

 

 

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!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Action Alerts · Call Your Members of Congress · Call Your State Legislators · Community Activism · Stand for Science

Pledge to Vote for Science

Take the Vote for Science pledge.

 

The Vote for Science pledge is an offshoot of the March for Science movement, which held its second annual march on April 14, 2018.

 

The pledge calls for citizens to:

Hold their leaders accountable for supporting policies that use and empower science

Advocate for science in their own communities

Vote, and encourage friends and neighbors to vote, too.

 

The website also offers specific pro-science actions that you can take, such as asking your state government to improve science education standards, and telling Congress and the president to fund research into gun violence and choose qualified scientists for science-heavy leadership posts in government.

 

 

See the Vote for Science homepage:

https://www.sciencevote.org

 

 

Take the Vote for Science pledge:

https://www.sciencevote.org/pledge

 

 

See Vote for Science’s Calendar of Themes (July 2018 is, of course, Space):

https://www.sciencevote.org/calendar

 

 

Donate to Vote for Science:

https://www.sciencevote.org/donate

Call Your Members of Congress · Fighting Bigotry, Racism, Sexism, Homophobia, Transphobia... · Health Care · Stand for Science · Stand Up for Civilization · Stand Up for Norms

Call Your MoCs to Protest HHS’s Proposed Plan to Stop Recognizing Transgender People as People

Call your members of Congress to protest Health and Human Services (HHS)’ proposed plans that would cease recognition of the civil rights of transgender people. 

 

Today’s Trump Administration fuckery comes from a Health and Human Services (HHS) proposal that would essentially cease to recognize the civil rights of transgender people.

 

The Obama administration had done much to issue guidelines and protections for this vulnerable group. On October 21, 2018, the New York Times reported that it had received an HHS memo that suggested narrowly defining gender as the sex assigned to an individual at birth.

 

If enacted, the changes would affect around 1.4 million Americans who have realized their sex and their gender don’t align.

 

Full article is here:

 

 

We can argue why the Trump administration is doing this, and why they’re doing this now. But once again we find ourselves metaphorically coaxing a toddler to put down the matches and walk away from the gas stove. Stop the danger first, then ponder the whys.

 

Here’s a script to use with your members of Congress (MoCs). Before you call, check the social media feeds of your two Senators and your House Rep. Have they said anything at all? Follow the script as written. Have they spoken out in favor of transgender rights, as Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren has? Thank them and mention the platform where you saw the message. Have they spoken against? Firmly, politely castigate them for their stance. Got it? OK, here’s a suggestion for what you can say:

 

“Dear Senator/House Rep (Lastname), I am (Firstname Lastname of town, zip code), and I am calling to ask you to do everything you can to stop Health and Human Services from rewriting the government’s definition of sex and gender to effectively erase transgender people. Recently, the New York Times received an HHS memo that promised to do just that by redefining the meaning of sex so narrowly that it fails to recognize the existence of transgender people.

If HHS succeeds, the department’s needless cruelty will affect the lives of around 1.4 million Americans who know that their gender doesn’t match the sex that they were assigned at birth. Transgender people suffer greatly as it is. The Obama administration took steps to grant them some civil rights protections. We shouldn’t be repealing those protections–we should be strengthening them and expanding them. I urge you to speak publicly against this proposal and draft laws that would reinforce the good work that the previous administration started.”

 

If you are a physician, please contact your relevant professional medical group, or the relevant subcommittee within that group, to urge it to push back against the government’s attempt to make laws that imperiously stomp all over science.

 

If you live in Massachusetts and you haven’t voted yet (early voting started Monday, October 22), please vote YES on Question 3. Voting yes is a vote to defend transgender rights in that state. If we at OTYCD hear about similar ballot measures in other states, we’ll add those here and we’ll note the correct wording to choose to affirm transgender rights.

 

If you can make a donation, consider giving to the Center for Transgender Equality:

https://transequality.org

 

On Twitter:

@transequality

 

 

…and/or the Transgender Law Center:

https://transgenderlawcenter.org

 

On Twitter:

@translawcenter

 

 

Also follow the #WontBeErased hashtag on Twitter.

 

Subscribe to One Thing You Can Do by clicking the button on the upper right of the

page or checking the About & Subscribe page. And tell your friends about the blog!

Action Alerts · Call Your Members of Congress · First Amendment, Defending a Free Press · Russian Scandal, Emoluments Clause · Stand Up for Civilization · Stand Up for Norms

Call Your MoCs, Demand Justice For Saudi Journalist Jamal Khashoggi, and Ask Them to Pressure the White House to Do Better, Dammit

Call your Members of Congress (MoCs) to demand that they do everything in their power to deliver justice on behalf of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, and ask them to pressure the White House to do better than their current piss-poor reaction.

 

On October 2, 2018, journalist Jamal Khashoggi entered the Saudi consulate in Istanbul to collect paperwork he needed to marry his Turkish fiancé.

 

He never came out.

 

A team of Saudi assassins are accused of killing Khashoggi. We won’t repeat the details that Turkish news sources are reporting; they’re startlingly gruesome. Suffice it to say that Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman, the Saudi leader colloquially known as MBS, saw Khashoggi and his writing as an irritant.

 

Saudi officials maintain that Khashoggi left the consulate through a back entrance, but he has not been seen since October 2. Virtually no one in the world intelligence community doubts that Khashoggi is dead, and virtually no one doubts that he was assassinated.

 

As this post is being prepared, there’s word that the Saudis might be working on a new story that acknowledges Khashoggi’s death but characterizes it as an interrogation gone wrong. Ahem.

 

Khashoggi’s alleged murder is a gross affront to all that is good and right. He wrote for the Washington Post and had deep connections to Saudi society, giving him insights that few could match. He was uniquely positioned to see the flaws of his native country, and he was uniquely equipped to name and describe those flaws. Also, he had adopted the United States as his home-in-exile. He held a green card and paid taxes.

 

Trump and his administration have done an unusually piss-poor job of reacting to the Khashoggi situation, which is saying something. While Trump promised unspecified “severe punishment” if Saudi leaders are responsible for Khashoggi’s death, he also bought the Saudis’ current spiel about Khashoggi’s fate and their role in it, and he showed that he valued the U.S.’s arms deals with Saudi Arabia more than upholding the bedrock American value of free speech. In an October 13, 2018 interview with 60 Minutes, Trump said, “I don’t want to hurt jobs. I don’t want to lose an order like that,” he said. “There are other ways of punishing, to use a word that’s a pretty harsh word, but it’s true.”

 

See a Time magazine article that quotes Trump reacting to the Khashoggi situation:

http://time.com/5424150/trump-saudi-arabia-arms-deal/

 

Several news outlets have highlighted the fact that the Saudis give the Trumps a lot of money. Here’s a CNBC piece about Saudi patronage of Trump hotels:

https://www.cnbc.com/2018/08/03/saudi-guests-boosted-revenue-at-trumps-new-york-hotel-reversing-drop.html

 

Here’s a Washington Post opinion piece by Jennifer Rubin about Trump family connections to the Saudis, in which she cites reports that MBS bragged that he had Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law, “in his pocket”:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/opinions/wp/2018/10/16/whose-interests-is-trump-looking-out-for-in-saudi-arabia/?utm_term=.238d5f11fa63

 

And if you’re wondering if Trump’s entanglement with the Saudis and their copious fonts of cash looks like a violation of the Emoluments clause of the Constitution, read these October 17 tweets from Jonathan Ladd, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution:

 

The fact that most in the political establishment except liberal activists has decided to pretend the emoluments clause doesn’t exist and allow a president to accept massive foreign bribes puts them in a weak position to claim that the Senate and SCOTUS must always stay the same.

If you want evidence that constitutional arrangements evolve over time, and practice, for better or worse, doesnt always match the original intention, just look the the emoluments clause. It’s original intention and interpretation until 2015 was that foreign bribes were forbidden
How did we effectively repeal the emoluments clause? Through the amendment procedure in the constitution’s text (2/3 of congress + 3/4 of states)? Nope. We just decided to ignore the text and tradition.
The best procedure to enforce the emoluments clause is impeachment, but the president’s party in Congress just decided that they didn’t care about foreign bribes, Constitutional text and tradition be damned. So now that Constitutional clause is unenforced and dead.

 

Also see Charlie Pierce’s fire-breathing opinion piece in Esquire that flatly accuses Trump of violating the Constitution because his connections to Saudis and their money evidently restrained him from giving them both barrels when the Khashoggi news broke:

https://www.esquire.com/news-politics/politics/a23872355/president-trump-saudi-arabia-jamal-khashoggi-emoluments-clause/

 

So, here’s what you can do. Call your members of Congress–your two Senators and your House Rep–and demand substantial action on Khashoggi.

 

The impeccable and exquisite Celeste Pewter (@Celeste_Pewter) got there first on Twitter with calling scripts, which we’ll reproduce below. Scroll down to learn how to show your appreciation for her work.

 

Once you have made your calls, describe your experience on Twitter using the #ICalledMyReps hashtag.

 

A note on saying the Saudi journalist’s name: Kah-sho-gee is perfectly fine.

 

If your House Rep is on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, it is extra-important that you call. Check this link to see if he or she is a member (click the blue button at the top to pull up the Republicans and the Democrats):

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

 

If one or both of your Senators are on the chamber’s Committee on Foreign Relations, it is extra-important that you call. The full list of members is below:

https://www.foreign.senate.gov/about/membership

 

Here is Celeste Pewter’s script for House of Representatives members:

 

Here is the script for your Senators:

 

 

You can show love for Celeste Pewter in many ways.

 

You can follow her on Twitter: @Celeste_Pewter

 

You can tweet about calling your Senators, using the #ICalledMyReps hashtag.

 

You can follow @ICalledMyReps on Twitter.

 

You can adopt a vulnerable incumbent Democratic Senator by checking out The Road to 2018, an organization Pewter created. Read about it here:

 

https://onethingyoucando.com/2018/08/08/support-the-road-to-2018-which-defends-democratic-senators-2/

 

You can follow The Road to 2018 on Twitter: @Roadto18

 

And you can subscribe to her peerless newsletter, It’s Time to Fight:

http://itstimetofight.weebly.com

 

 

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!

Action Alerts · Call Your Members of Congress · Russian Scandal, Emoluments Clause · Stand Up for Civilization · Stand Up for Norms · Uncategorized

Call Your MoCs and Demand They Enforce Sanctions Against Russia, Dammit, August 9, 2018 Edition

Call your MoCs to demand enforcement of sanctions against Russia.

 

Update, July 18, 2018: In the wake of the July 16, 2018 Helsinki meeting, activists such as Celeste Pewter (@Celeste_pewter) are encouraging citizens to ask their representatives for stronger, bipartisan sanctions against Russia.

 

Recently we published a post about calling your MoCs (members of Congress) to demand action in the wake of Trump’s astonishingly bad performance at the July 16, 2018 Helsinki meeting with Vladimir Putin.

 

See that post, which included a script from Pewter:

https://onethingyoucando.com/2018/07/17/call-your-mocs-and-leave-no-doubt-in-their-minds-about-how-you-feel-about-trumps-press-conference-in-helsinki/

 

Since we wrote that post, Pewter updated her original Helsinki sample script to include additional talking points. Top of the list of things to request is ‘Sanctions–stronger than the sanctions enacted before. Should be bipartisan.’

 

Those talking points are below. If you haven’t yet called your MoCs about Helsinki, please do, and include a request for new, tougher Russia sanctions in your discussion. If you have, and didn’t have these talking points at hand, call again and ask for these things.

 

Standing accumulated text on the original sanctions, what Trump did and failed to do, and why his failure is scary and important follow after the Pewter talking points.

 

 

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.

 

Worse, Trump’s blatant shrugging off of the will of 530 members of Congress is evidently being taken as a sign by GOP leadership to remain supine in the face of his disregard for democracy. More than once I recall hearing GOP Senate Leader Mitch McConnell refuse to advance a bill to a floor vote using the excuse that if the Senate voted for it, Trump wouldn’t sign it.

 

THAT IS NOT A REASON TO AVOID FLOOR VOTES, FFS.

 

Anyway. 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

 

It’s also worth noting a chilling comment Trump made on June 15, during a White House lawn broadcast of Fox & Friends (noting that for future historians, who will boggle at it). When asked about North Korean Dictator Kim Jong Un, he said:

 

“He speaks and his people sit up at attention. I want my people to do the same.”

 

Trump himself later tried to downplay the utterance it by calling it sarcasm. [Attempting to blunt the impact of horrible comments by retroactively claiming they’re jokes is a classic strategy of bullies and abusers.] Conservative commentators have tried to soft-pedal it by claiming that Trump was talking about his own staff, not American citizens at large.

 

Given all the other things Trump has said and done, both as a candidate and as president, we at OTYCD are not taking it as sarcasm, or as a reference to how he wants White House staff to behave. He admires dictators. He doesn’t seem to care what dictators do to their people to force obedience.

 

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 August 9, 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.