Community Activism · Ethics · Read, Educate Yourself, Prepare

Read There Is No Good Card For This: What to Say and Do When Life Is Scary, Awful, and Unfair to People You Love

Read There Is No Good Card for This: What to Say and Do When Life is Scary, Awful, and Unfair to People You Love, by Kelsey Crowe and Emily McDowell.

 

TINGCFT might seem like a not-quite-on-topic choice for a political blog, but bear with us. It’s a great textbook on how to have awkward conversations, how to listen, and how not to be a jerk–skills that are ever more precious and valuable in the time of Trump.

 

McDowell is the genius behind a series of greeting cards that you’d actually want to send to someone who’s going through hell but still has a sense of humor. Crowe holds a doctorate in social welfare, and founded Help Each Other Out, which teaches people how to avoid being the person who ghosts or says and does unhelpful things when bad stuff happens to friends and family.

 

The whole book is a gem, but in particular, it goes over how to help people in the grip of illness, fertility issues, divorce, unemployment, and grief.

 

Some general takeaways:

 

It’s better to do something than nothing. Saying ‘I’m sorry’ is doing something.

Remember it’s about them, not you. Don’t make their problem about you.

Listen.

Your kindness is your credential.

The person who needs help may not respond to your overture the way you’d expect. Don’t hold that against them, and don’t let their response deter you from helping others.

 

 

Buy There Is No Good Card for This at great independent book stores such as The Strand or Powell’s:

http://www.strandbooks.com/index.cfm

http://www.powells.com/book/there-is-no-good-card-for-this-9780062469991/1-5

 

 

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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/

 

Ethics · Fighting Bigotry, Racism, Sexism, Homophobia, Transphobia... · Read, Educate Yourself, Prepare · Save These Tools · Stand Up for Civilization · Stand Up for Norms

Embrace the Awkward: Learn to Handle All Sorts of Unreasonable People

Want to get better at handling uncomfortable conversations with racists, sexists, bigots, and people who don’t share your beliefs and won’t let it go? Read these Captain Awkward blog posts.

 

If you haven’t heard of this blog, you have a treat ahead of you. Plan on losing an afternoon, because you will be diving deep in the rabbit hole.

 

Captain Awkward might be–no, is–the best personal advice column out there. Better than Miss Manners. Better than Dear Abby. Better than Dear Prudence. And yes, better than Carolyn Hax (sorry, Hax).

 

Blog author Jennifer P. has written several entries and presented guest posts on how to handle encounters with sexists, racists, xenophobes, homophobic and transphobic folks, as well as people who make it their mission to stomp on your boundaries.

 

Here are some good ones to start with:

 

#1083 and #1084: Nazis Are Beyond Awkward, Do Not Engage (a woman dating a man who got a Neo-Nazi tattoo way back when and hasn’t yet had it removed; a woman’s older brother is a jerk who says pro-Nazi things and her family is being dense about it):

#1083 and #1084: Nazis Are Beyond Awkward, Do Not Engage.

 

 

#915: ‘All in the Family Politics’ (She is pro-choice and works for an abortion provider; her future mother-in-law is anti-choice):

#915: All In The Family Politics

 

 

#871: ‘Love and Friendship in the Time of Xenophobia’:

#871: Love & Friendship in the Time of Xenophobia

 

 

#819: ‘Ware the ‘Frozen Chosen’ (dealing with less-than-Christian-acting congregants):

#819: ‘Ware The “Frozen Chosen”

 

 

#710: ‘I Love My Volunteers (But Not the Racist Ones)’:

#710: I love my volunteers (but not the racist ones).

 

 

…and read these guest posts:

 

‘A Post-election Guide to Changing Hearts and Minds’:

Guest Post: A post-election guide to changing hearts and minds

 

‘If I Come Out to My Family, Will They Stop Making Offensive Jokes Already?’:

Guest Post! “If I come out to my family, will they stop making offensive jokes already?”

 

Also, on November 16, the Captain Awkward blog posted a link to a great Southern Poverty Law Center guide on responding to everyday bigotry:

https://www.splcenter.org/20150126/speak-responding-everyday-bigotry

 

 

Visit the Captain Awkward site:

https://captainawkward.com

 

Follow Captain Awkward on Twitter:

@CAwkward

 

Donate to Captain Awkward:

Support/Donate

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Keep Calling Your Senators to Oppose Terrible Judicial Nominees (Not Just SCOTUS)

Keep calling your senators to oppose terrible judicial nominees (not just those for the Supreme Court of the United States).

 

Team Trump’s assault on the judicial branch through nominating terrible far-right candidates hasn’t gotten much attention on this blog because it’s a slow-moving, ongoing crisis.

 

One Thing You Can Do tries to focus on just that–one thing you can do every day to push back against Trump. Sticking rigidly to one thing has proven increasingly difficult as the Trump administration has aged, but we’ve mostly managed it. The judges issue has suffered the most from this practice.

 

Mitch McConnell is not limiting his manipulations to SCOTUS. He deliberately held open dozens of vacant judgeships under Obama and is frantically shoving as many nominees through as he can during the current Congress.

 

This is extra-disturbing because with the GOP in Congressional control, it’s the judicial branch that’s saved us from many of the worst excesses of Trump.

 

Cramming the courts full of young Trump appointees, all of whom receive lifetime appointments, threatens to warp our judicial system and pervert justice for decades to come.

 

You won’t be surprised to learn that most of these bad nominees are getting through on party-line votes.

 

We wrote about this once before after seeing ads on CNN that urged Republicans to support McConnell’s scheming. His most recent desperate move, which ended in the eleventh-hour withdrawal of a nominee who had racist writings in his past, reminded us we should write another post that you can bookmark and revisit.

 

First, know that as long as the GOP has control of Congress under Trump, they are trying to force through far-right nominees, several of whom are seriously problematic and some of whom are unqualified (seriously, they’ve tried to push through people who got an ‘unqualified’ rating from the American Bar Association).

 

The most recent failed nominee, Ryan Bounds, was an extra-insane situation because he was from Oregon, and that state’s senators had both refused to return their ‘blue slips’ on the nominee.

 

That means that Bounds had not earned the support of either Senator from Oregon.

 

In the past, if even one Senator withheld a blue slip, that ended a judicial nominee’s candidacy. McConnell was determined to steam ahead with Bounds in the absence of both blue slips, which has never happened in the history of the Senate.

 

The only reason Bounds was stopped is a GOP Senator, who had seen the racist writings, refused to support him. McConnell, realizing he did not have the votes to confirm, withdrew.

 

So, how to stay on top of the judicial nominee crisis? First, get on Twitter if you’re not already and follow:

 

@civilrightsorg

 

@DSenFloor

 

@cspan

 

The first will alert you to bad nominees. The other two will tell you when they’re headed to the floor.

 

Also follow @Celeste_pewter if you aren’t already. She is on top of bad nominees and will alert you to them as they appear.

 

Second, check this link and see if one of your Senators is on the Senate Judiciary Committee. (You’ll have to scroll down for the membership.)

 

https://www.judiciary.senate.gov

 

If you have a Senator on the committee, then it’s extra-important that you call to oppose bad nominees.

 

You can also check the committee’s Nominations page to learn about what’s in progress on that front:

https://www.judiciary.senate.gov/nominations

 

You should call both your Senators to oppose, but it’s crucial to call members of the committee early and often, in hopes of stopping bad candidates from advancing to a floor vote.

 

We can’t write you a blanket script because each bad nominee is bad in his or her own way. We can teach you to compose your own, however.

 

In checking the Twitter accounts listed above, look for:

 

The rating the nominee has received from the American Bar Association. If the person is unqualified, say so. If McConnell is rushing the nominee through so fast that the ABA hasn’t had time to issue a rating, say that, and demand that nothing go forward until the ABA can give a rating.

 

Whether or not one or both of the nominee’s home Senators has returned a blue slip. If anyone refuses, say so, and cite that as a reason to oppose.

 

If the nominee has hesitated to affirm bedrock rulings such as Brown vs Board of Education, Griswold vs Connecticut, Roe vs Wade, etc. Some nominees have given alarmingly muddled and evasive answers to questions along these lines. The only acceptable answer is ‘yes, these landmark cases were correctly decided.’

 

If civil rights and reproductive rights orgs say, flatly, that ‘Nominee X sucks and should not be on the federal bench for life,’ believe them and act accordingly.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

Call Your MoCs to Demand That Trump Withdraw His Invitation to Host Putin In the Fall

Call your members of Congress (MoCs) to demand that Trump withdraw his invitation to host Vladimir Putin in Washington, D.C., in the fall.

 

We at OTYCD hesitated to devote a post to this issue. We know Trump won’t withdraw the invitation. We know that any suggestion that he should withdraw will probably nudge him to double down.

 

This request is not aimed at Trump. It’s aimed at the sane people who surround him and support him, and who make government work.

 

If we, the constituents, don’t actually raise a ruckus with our electeds, they’ll convince themselves it’s not a big deal, and not worth their attention.

 

This president is not normal. We’re already normalizing too many things, some out of simple exhaustion.

 

Our sample script is below, but we are going to reference @Celeste_pewter’s post-Helsinki talking points in that script, to give it more shape and direction beyond ‘this proposed meeting is dangerous bullshit and should not happen.’

 

Sample script: “Dear (Senator/House Rep Lastname,) I’m (Firstname Lastname from
town, zip code.) I am calling to object to Trump’s announcement that he wants to host
Vladimir Putin in Washington this fall. This is ridiculously unwise, given what happened
in Helsinki, and no good can come of it. None. I realize you don’t have much power to
actually stop Trump from doing this, but I wanted you to know that this constituent
objects, and wants you to let your colleagues know that I object, and I want you to do
everything in your power to push back against this meeting. Some good ways to do that
would be moving forward with acts that punish and restrain Trump for his actions in
Helsinki. I’d like to see a bipartisan effort to impose a new round of even-tougher
sanctions on Russia. I want you to pass legislation that would protect Special Counsel
Robert Mueller’s investigation, and protect Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein,

who has also come under attack by Trump’s minions. I want you to continue to push

to obtain the transcript of the one-on-one meeting between Trump and Putin. And I

would like Congress to formally rebuke Trump on the record, through a censure or
otherwise. Thank you.”

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

Call Your MoCs and Demand That They Say OH HELL NO to Trump’s Notion That Maybe He’ll Give Former Russia Ambassador Michael McFaul to Putin

Call your members of Congress (MoCs) and demand that they say OH HELL NO to Trump’s notion that maybe he’ll give former U.S. ambassador to Russia, Michael McFaul, to Vladimir Putin for “questioning.”

 

Jesus Fucking Christ. Apparently we have reached the phase of the Trump presidency where we swear all the damn time. Ugh.

 

So, remember people observing what Trump said in public about the Helsinki meeting, and saying ‘Whoa, if this is what he’s saying in public, what the hell did those two talk about in private for two hours?’ We might be starting to get hints about that.

 

During the post-Helsinki press conference, Putin mentioned the notion of letting the U.S. question the 12 Russians we indicted on July 13, 2018 in exchange for letting Russian officials question Americans and America-affiliated folks who have annoyed Putin over the years.

 

He singled out by name Bill Browder, an American hedge fund manager who successfully persuaded the U.S. and several other countries to pass the Magnitsky Act, an anti-corruption measure which constrains Putin’s ability to grow and access his ill-gotten gains.

 

Browder is now a British citizen, so it would be hard for Trump to deliver him to Putin. Not so with Michael McFaul, who served as the U.S. ambassador to Russia under President Obama from 2012 to 2014. He annoyed the crap out of Putin by meeting with several of his Russian opponents and generally being in possession of a working spine.

 

Now understand this. Foreign leaders can make all the hare-brained, insulting requests they want of the U.S., and we’re sure there have been some doozies. It’s on the sitting administration and its staff to react appropriately, and know how to react appropriately.

 

The proper response to Putin’s request is ‘No, fuck you, no, and also, no, and seriously, did you get a hold of a bad batch of bathtub vodka? The fact that you’re actually asking for this makes us think there’s something wrong with your brain.’

 

But yesterday, during a press conference, Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders was asked about this crazy notion, and gave an answer so wrong that it belongs in the Hall of Fame for Wrong Answers (maybe that should be the Hall of Infamy for wrong answers?).

 

We’re pulling this quote from a Politico piece that we’ll link below:

 

“He [Trump] said it [Putin’s quid pro quo interview idea] was an interesting idea. He didn’t commit to anything,” Sanders said at the daily press briefing. “He wants to work with his team and determine if there’s any validity that would be helpful to the process…It was an idea they threw out.”

 

Full Politico piece:

https://www.politico.com/story/2018/07/18/trump-russia-browder-mcfaul-questioning-731616

 

A complete and fully justified shitstorm followed. The White House should have thrown out the idea the Russians threw out, and done so with extreme prejudice.

 

But wait! It got worse! On July 18, 2018, the Russians made it clear that they wanted to interview former ambassador McFaul.

 

McFaul’s “crimes” are nothing more than pissing off Vladimir Putin. He pissed off Putin during the course of his duties as an ambassador, when he had diplomatic immunity.

 

Failing to bluntly and harshly dismiss the notion of giving an American ambassador to Russian prosecutors for “questioning” is deeply offensive and scary. Actually, those words aren’t quite up to the task of explaining how offensive and scary that is.

 

Spencer Ackerman did a better job of capturing that in his July 18, 2018 piece for The Daily Beast in which he quotes a sitting, anonymous U.S. diplomat as being “at a fucking loss” over the administration’s failure to defend sub-basic boundaries. The quote appeared in the story’s headline.

 

When diplomats are dropping F-bombs while speaking on the record to the press (albeit anonymously), things are bad. Defcon-level bad.

 

Full article is here:

https://www.thedailybeast.com/us-officials-at-a-fucking-loss-over-latest-russia-sell-out

 

Because this development is just that offensive and scary, here are a few more tweets from sober-minded folks who are full-throatedly sounding the alarm.

 

Tom Nichols, Republican and author of The Death of Expertise:

This is horrifying. There can be only one announcement: That Putin can go piss up a rope. The President must stand by – a former ambassador of the United States. This is not a partisan issue, this a threat against a fellow citizen from an enemy regime.

The *instant* answer should have been: “The President told Putin that he cannot deflect from his own corruption and abuses of his people by threatening US citizens, and that we will consider any further mention of as a threat to the safety of an American diplomat.”

No. You are not overreacting. The entire country should be aware of this. If Putin can single out , he can single out anyone. The President’s job is to protect us, not to even *consider* handing any of us over to an enemy government.

 

Trial lawyer Max Kennerly:

Republicans in Congress need to draw a red line for Trump by telling him that any degree of ‘cooperation’ with persecution of would be impeachable. This includes & . They would’ve said the same to Obama if he’d offered selling out an ambassador.

 

CNN commentator and conservative Amanda Carpenter:

Please imagine if Obama’s Press Sec said there would be an “announcement” about turning over a US Ambassador, that Russia despises, over to Russia for questioning. Republicans would be rightfully furious. This cannot stand. This isn’t a partisan issue. Support your countrymen.

 

Susan Rice, former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations and a former national security advisor under President Obama tweeted:

Beyond outrageous. Amb. McFaul served our country honorably and with full diplomatic immunity. If the White House cannot defend and protect our diplomats, like our service members, they are serving a hostile foreign power not the American people.

 

And Jeb Bush, brother and son of past presidents and 2016 Republican presidential candidate, tweeted:

Not dismissing this absurd request out of hand is an extraordinary sign of weakness by an American president.

 

Want more? Check out #ProtectMcFaul on Twitter.

 

So! You won’t be surprised to learn that Celeste Pewter (@Celeste_pewter) got there first with a script about McFaul.

 

As always, first check your MoCs’ social media feeds and see if they’ve said something yet about this. If they have, it’s an expression of outrage and horror and a pledge to act–no one is defending this and no one would try, it’s that thoroughly bad. If they’ve said something, thank them.

 

Then carry on with the call, using this script as a jumping-off point.

 

Yes, we grant that McFaul is unlikely to be handed over to Putin. But this is the sort of madness that demands an instant, firm, loud, harsh, primal NO GODDAMNIT NO.

 

Scroll down for ways to support Celeste Pewter and her work.

 

Here are additional ways to support Celeste Pewter, author of the black-backgrounded

script above.

 

You can follow her on Twitter:

@Celeste_Pewter

 

You can call your Members of Congress (MoCs) and tweet about your experience using

the #ICalledMyReps hashtag.

 

You can check out The Road to 2018, an organization she’s involved with that defends

and promotes vulnerable Democratic Senators. See our post on it:

https://onethingyoucando.com/2018/02/25/support-the-road-to-2018-which-defends-democratic-senators/

 

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

Action Alerts · Community Activism · Ethics · Marches and Protests · Russian Scandal, Emoluments Clause · Stand Up for Civilization · Stand Up for Norms · Use Your Power, Recruit Friends

Join a Vigil to Confront Corruption and Demand Democracy on July 18, 2018

Join a vigil to Confront Corruption at sundown on Wednesday, July 18, 2018.

 

This event was planned before Monday’s Helsinki summit, and before Trump revealed himself to be so clearly under the control of Vladimir Putin.

 

We’re cheating a little by putting out two posts today–the now-standard weekly post demanding that Trump actually enforce and support sanctions against Russia (by which we mean earlier ones that passed Congress 530-5 in a bill that Trump signed but has pretty much ignored, not the fresh round of sanctions citizens are asking for in the wake of Helsinki).

 

As of the night of Monday July 16, 2018, citizens began gathering in Lafayette Park in Washington, D.C., to protest Trump’s horrific performance and demand that he go.

 

Those outside D.C. who are hungry to display their disgust have helped spread the word about this protest, which is a joint effort of dozens of groups, including MoveOn, March for Truth, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), Stand Up America, Lawyers for Good Governance, and more.

 

 

Find a vigil near you by typing your zip code into this search engine:

https://www.confrontcorruption.org/?email_address=&address_change%5Bsubmitted_address%5D=01852&address_change%5Bdistance%5D=50&commit=Search

 

 

See the main Confront Corruption and Defend Democracy page:

http://www.confrontcorruption.org

 

 

See its About page:

https://www.confrontcorruption.org/about