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Help the Folks Who Toppled the Confederate Statue in Durham, N.C., Pay Their Legal Bills

Donate to the legal fund of the folks who toppled the Confederate statue that was on public land in Durham, North Carolina.

On August 14, a group of protestors pulled down a Confederate statue that was on public land in Durham. It had been there since 1924. This happened two days after the events of Charlottesville, Virginia, which had their origins in the community’s attempt to remove a statue of Confederate general Robert E. Lee.

For what it’s worth, the Durham statue was not dedicated to an individual. It was dedicated ‘in memory of the boys who wore gray,’ a reference to the color of the uniform of the Confederate soldiers, and sported the seal of ‘The Confederate States of America.’

Read about the toppling, and see it in the PBS link:

http://time.com/4900779/durham-north-carolina-confederate-statue-pulled-down-protesters/

http://www.pbs.org/newshour/rundown/watch-protesters-pull-confederate-statue-north-carolina/

A few days after the statute was taken down, officials in Durham county began arresting those responsible on felony riot charges (despite there having been no actual riot) as well as some misdemeanors. As of August 20, when this post was written, the eight who were arrested had been bailed out, but they still have legal expenses. All are due in court on September 12, 2017.

 

You can help the eight pay their legal expenses through the Freedom Fighter Fund, set up by the Durham Solidarity Center:

http://durhamsolidaritycenter.org/bondfund/

 

You can read about the arrests and the charges against the eight here:

https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2017/08/durham-arrests/537015/

http://www.heraldsun.com/news/local/counties/durham-county/article167929017.html

 

Also read about the Durham residents who offered themselves in a heartening and novel protest of the arrests of the eight activists. Many locals–we can’t seem to find a count or even an estimate, but the photos show long line–turned themselves in at the city’s jail in an ‘I am Spartacus’-style solidarity move to show support for the eight who removed the statue:

http://washingtonmonthly.com/2017/08/17/residents-of-durham-showed-us-what-patriotism-looks-like/

 

Also? Check this map from the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC). Is there at least one Confederate monument in your community? Is it on public land? It’s time to take it down and destroy it, or move it to a more appropriate location, such as a museum or a Confederate cemetery.

https://www.splcenter.org/news/2017/08/15/send-letter-its-time-take-down-confederate-monuments

The SPLC is recommending that you send a letter to the editor of your local newspaper and ask for the monument’s removal, but we at OTYCD recommend you see if you can do more. Is there a local group that’s trying to get the monument removed? Join them and help them. Is there a local election coming up? Tell the candidates and incumbents that removing Confederate monuments on public land is important to you, and you won’t vote for anyone who won’t agree to take them away.

 

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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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Thwart a Constitutional Convention by Electing Democrats to State Legislatures

Thwart any plans the Republicans might have to call a Constitutional Convention by helping to elect Democrats to state legislatures–your state’s, and other states. 

You know the importance of electing Democrats at all levels–federal, state, and local. You’ve read our blog posts on state-level legislative elections, and you might have done something to help. But there’s another reason to stay alert to state legislative elections, both in your state and in other states, and work to ensure that Democrats get elected.

The country can call a Constitutional Convention if two-thirds of the states band together and ask for one. Such a convention would allow its members to amend or even rewrite the Constitution.

What’s the problem? In order to call a Constitutional Convention, 34 states would have to  pass bills in their own legislatures to ask for one. A total of 38 states are needed to pass any measures cooked up at the convention.

As of mid-2017, 32 states have Republican-controlled legislatures, and 24 of those states have Republican “trifectas”–Republican governors AND a Republican-controlled legislature. Democrats have only six trifectas, and six more legislatures are split.

Worse, the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), a conservative think tank, has been steadily working toward changing the state legislative landscape to open the door to a Constitutional Convention. It’s agitating for a balanced budget amendment–which would prevent Congress from passing a budget that increases the national debt.

To lay it out plainly: If a Constitutional Convention happens anytime soon, it will be dominated by Republican-leaning states, and will almost certainly be dominated by measures that reflect Republican and conservative points of view. They could write amendments that bans gay marriage, or abortion. They could augment the second amendment in a dangerous way. Heck, they could rewrite the first amendment to curtail protests. They could get up to all sorts of nasty shenanigans. That’s not to say their amendments will convince 38 states to vote in favor, but still.

You can thwart this in many ways.

First, learn which party, if any, controls your state legislature, and assess the strength or weakness of the party’s control.

If your state is controlled by Democrats, learn how to strengthen the party’s control by increasing their numbers. This might mean spending time or money on electing, re-electing, and defending state candidates who need your help.

If your state splits control between the parties, see what you can do to broaden and boost Democratic control. Again, this might mean spending time or money on electing, re-electing, and defending state candidates who need your help.

If your state is controlled by Republicans, you will want to commit time and money to increasing the number of Democrats, especially if your state has a Republican trifecta.

If you want to help affect legislatures beyond your state, target states with Republican trifectas and do your damnedest to break them.

 

Learn about upcoming state elections through Flippable:

https://www.flippable.org

 

 

 

Read about Constitutional Conventions, the modern pro-convention movement, and what’s at stake:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/posteverything/wp/2014/10/21/a-constitutional-convention-could-be-the-single-most-dangerous-way-to-fix-american-government/?utm_term=.5eaf6cce9a8e

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/were-surprisingly-close-to-a-new-constitutional-convention-bad-idea/2017/04/06/f6d5b76a-197d-11e7-855e-4824bbb5d748_story.html?utm_term=.bbdac53be324

http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/politics/2016/01/_liberals_and_conservatives_are_teaming_up_to_call_a_new_constitutional.html

https://www.usnews.com/news/best-states/wisconsin/articles/2017-05-31/republicans-push-constitutional-convention-measures-forward

http://wuwm.com/post/wisconsin-could-become-30th-state-demand-constitutional-convention#stream/0

 

Check this Wikipedia page to see which party, if any, controls your state legislature:

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

 

Read about how Republicans now control many state legislatures:

https://www.cnsnews.com/news/article/barbara-hollingsworth/after-winning-7-more-seats-gop-dominance-state-legislatures-all

 

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Learn from How Italians Ultimately Defeated Silvio Berlusconi

 

Trump has been likened to Hitler, Mussolini, and other 20th-century autocrats, but his closest analog is Silvio Berlusconi, the blustering, womanizing media mogul who served as Italy’s prime minister from 1994 to 2001.

In this November 2016 New York Times op-ed, Luigi Zingales shows us how to avoid the mistakes of Berlusconi opponents, which had the effect of prolonging his grip on power.

The key point to remember:

Attack what Trump does, not who he is. Yes, he’s morally bankrupt. Yes, he’s an awful human being. Yes, he’s unbelievably ignorant. Yes, his view of women is horrific. Yes, his twitter-squawkings are insane. Yes, he looks goddamn ridiculous.

If you need to complain about things like that, vent in a private Facebook group, or some other protected space. Empty it from your mind, then go out and shine a light on what he is doing, and explain why what he’s doing is bad.

You need to do it in a way that spotlights the consequences of his actions as president, and not on why Trump, the man, is repugnant. The instant you start attacking his character, you make him sympathetic. It’s not fair, but it’s what it is. The anti-Berlusconi crowd made that mistake and got seven years of his rule. Do you want eight years of Trump? Then lay off.

 

 

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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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Removing Trump Is Not Enough

Just sayin’. Your work is not done when Trump is. We have to remove all the elected Republicans who installed him as a candidate, and all the Republicans who have placed country over party. 

If you learn nothing else from the Trump crisis, learn this: Democracy is fragile, and it needs you to make it work. Yes, you personally. The price of gaining a voice is gaining the responsibility to use it.

Trump will go, but you must not. He is the fetid product of decades of political rot promulgated and abetted by the leaders of the Republican party.

In order for democracy to work in America, we need at least two functional parties. Given the difficulty of launching a viable party in this country, we’re more likely to be stuck with the Republicans for a while yet. A malfunctioning heap of smoking rubble beats a shiny new political machine if the heap of rubble has name recognition and familiar infrastructure.

Trump is not the sole problem. Every Republican who assented to choosing Trump as its candidate is part of the problem, as is every Republican who side-steps rules and norms if they get in the way of what the party wants.

That said, not every Republican did those things, but too many did. Even after Trump is removed, we have to work to elect Republicans who respect facts and reality rather than making up their own versions and trying to group-think them into being.

 

The types of Republicans who have to go include:

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who broke the rules by refusing to give Merrick Garland a hearing as a Supreme Court nominee when Obama was president, and pushed through a far-right candidate, Neil Gorsuch, under Trump. McConnell made up a bullshit excuse about presidents not getting to choose SCOTUS candidates in the last years of their terms to bar Garland, and later refused to entertain the notion that perhaps Trump’s pick shouldn’t get consideration while he was under investigation by the FBI–a far more serious set of circumstances.

McConnell also stopped Obama from going public about the Trump-Russia revelations in 2016 in a bipartisan way, and he threatened to accuse Obama of playing politics if he tried. Anyone who radiates that much bad faith shouldn’t hold elected office at all, never mind lead the Senate.

 

Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, who has demonstrated his lack of spine on multiple occasions. He has consistently pushed back against calls to investigate the scandals arising from Trump’s Russia scandals, and has downplayed other oddities that would have him screaming bloody murder had they been done by Democrats.

A regrettably routine example of his spinelessness appeared after Greg Gianforte won the special election for Montana’s open house seat the day after he body-slammed a reporter. Ryan decried the violence and called on Gianforte to apologize but said he would still seat him in good faith: “If he wins, he has been chosen by the people of Montana who their congressman is going to be. I’m going to let the people of Montana decide who they want as their representative.”

Not seating a guy who attacks a reporter who asked him a simple question that he should have expected is a no-brainer. If Gianforte can’t handle the stress of campaigning in Montana, one of our most rural states, how will he handle having mics shoved in his face all day, every day? Ryan should have insisted that he complete some anger-management classes first, at minimum. Failing to enforce norms teaches that it’s OK to body-slam a reporter who’s just doing his job. Not only is that not OK, it eats at the very foundations of our democracy–the first amendment is first for a reason.

 

And speaking of Gianforte, he’s another Republican who has to go–not just because he attacked a reporter, but because he lied about what happened in his official statement. This fact that gets glossed over in recounting the incident, and it’s vitally important that we not lose sight of it. Here, for the record, is the statement Gianforte released:

Bozeman, Mont. — “Tonight, as Greg was giving a separate interview in a private office, The Guardian’s Ben Jacobs entered the office without permission, aggressively shoved a recorder in Greg’s face, and began asking badgering questions. Jacobs was asked to leave. After asking Jacobs to lower the recorder, Jacobs declined. Greg then attempted to grab the phone that was pushed in his face. Jacobs grabbed Greg’s wrist, and spun away from Greg, pushing them both to the ground. It’s unfortunate that this aggressive behavior from a liberal journalist created this scene at our campaign volunteer BBQ.” — Shane Scanlon, spokesperson for Greg for Montana.

So, Gianforte didn’t just attack a reporter, his campaign spokesman wildly mischaracterized what happened. Anyone who’s heard the audio or read the account from the Fox news crew who saw the attack knows this statement is blatantly at odds with reality. Any candidate who lies in this manner about something so critical, knowing there are witnesses to his behavior (it’s not clear if Gianforte and his team were aware of the audio recording), is unfit for high office.

 

Yet another Republican who needs to go is Mick Mulvaney, director of the White House Office of Management and Budget, for defending a $2 trillion error in the FY2018 and expressing confidence in the flagrantly borked numbers.

It’s no secret that the Republicans crave tax cuts for the rich like vampires crave blood, but they’ve never resorted to alternative math on quite this big a scale before. Embracing a $2 trillion error on top of math that was already a fantasy (the budget assumed a three percent growth rate, which economists say just doesn’t happen) shows that too many Republicans are just not serious-minded enough to handle the hard, tedious, unglamorous work of governing.

 

Electing Democrats is not enough. We have to work to elect sane Republicans as well. Republicans such as John McCain and Mitt Romney.

We heard that groan, and we feel you. But! We won’t be able to elect a Congress of 100 percent Democrats–not gonna happen, ever. Sorry. And sitting aside bemusedly, election after election, as sane Republicans got knocked out in primaries by mendacious loony-cuckoopants Republicans helped get us into this mess.

To be clear: sane Republicans are Republicans who you don’t agree with on much, or at all, but who act like grownups nonetheless.

They are people who would never pull the shit that McConnell did. They are people who would react far more strongly to Gianforte’s transgressions than Ryan did. They are people who would seek tax cuts through talking to the whole Congress and making their case, not by waiting till they have a majority and putting out budget numbers that are so wrong and unworkable as to be insulting.

As much as it might pain you, you need to be alert to the sane Republicans in your midst, and you need to support them with time and money. Please think about it.

 

Read about how McConnell blocked Obama’s nomination of Merrick Garland, and how Trump thanked him subsequently for his efforts:

http://www.npr.org/2016/03/16/470664561/mcconnell-blocking-supreme-court-nomination-about-a-principle-not-a-person

http://www.vanityfair.com/news/2017/04/trump-thanks-mcconnell-for-all-that-he-did-to-ruin-merrick-garland

 

Read about how McConnell tanked Obama’s effort to get a bi-partisan admission of Russian interference while the 2016 campaign was still live:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/obama-orders-review-of-russian-hacking-during-presidential-campaign/2016/12/09/31d6b300-be2a-11e6-94ac-3d324840106c_story.html?utm_term=.763c3e1ce37c

 

Read about how Ryan said he would seat Greg Gianforte even though he assaulted a reporter:

http://www.cbsnews.com/news/paul-ryan-signals-he-would-still-seat-greg-gianforte-if-he-wins-special-election/

 

Read reactions to Gianforte’s attack:

https://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2017/5/25/15689924/greg-gianforte-defense-assault

http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/article/2017/may/25/parsing-statement-montana-politician-who-allegedly/

http://www.cnn.com/2017/05/25/politics/greg-gianforte-statement-defense/

 

Read about the $2 trillion budget error and Mulvaney’s admission that it’s an error, and he nonetheless stands by the numbers:

http://www.vanityfair.com/news/2017/05/trumps-entire-budget-is-based-on-a-2-trillion-accounting-trick

http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2017/05/mick-mulvaney-tried-to-explain-math-error-in-trump-budget.html

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Follow Richard W. Painter and Norm Eisen on Twitter

Follow Richard W. Painter and Norm Eisen on Twitter–two former White House ethics lawyers who have been explaining Trump’s violations in real time since the election.

Richard W. Painter was the chief White House ethics lawyer under George W. Bush from 2005 to 2007. Norm Eisen played the same role for Barack Obama from 2009 to 2011. Both are involved with Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), a nonprofit founded in 2003. CREW is the entity that filed suit against Trump the first instant they could for contravening the emoluments clause of the Constitution.

Both men have spoken out, consistently and speedily, on the many and varied ethics violations accrued by Trump since November 8, 2016. Both have since become active on Twitter (Eisen already was; Painter brought himself up to speed).

Following their feeds will by turns outrage you and keep you sane, in that you will see professional ethicists confirm that what Trump just did was indeed wrong and worth being angry about.

Follow Richard W. Painter on Twitter:

@RWPUSA

Follow Norm Eisen on Twitter:

@NormEisen

And heck, follow CREW on Twitter too:

@CREWcrew