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Subscribe to Your Local Newspaper, Even If It Stinks, and Urge Its Editors to Improve It

 

Subscribe to your local newspaper, even if it’s a terrible, poorly-written right-wing rag, and urge its editors to improve its coverage.

 

Yes, really. You’ve long since heard the calls to support the heavy-hitter papers such as the New York Times, the Washington Post, and the Wall Street Journal. You need to support your local paper with your dollars, too, even if you hate it.

 

Why? First off, it’s the only game in town. A bad local newspaper is almost always better than no local newspaper because a local newspaper is one of the best checks on local government, and sometimes it’s the only check on local government. A subscription is an investment in checking your local government.

 

Second, newspapers are obsessed with giving their readers what they say they want. If their readers want coverage that slants to the right, that’s what they’ll print. The only way to make a bad local paper better (aside from starting a competing local paper), is to subscribe and demand that they cover things that matter to you, and praise them when they do.

 

Third, local papers, even bad ones, will nonetheless tell you, at minimum, the basics of what’s happening with local government, the school board, the police department, the fire department, community groups, and other entities you need to keep an eye on. Again, if the paper is doing a lousy job, give its editorial staff polite constructive criticism in the form of emails and letters to the editor (a future OTYCD post will deal with how to write Letters to the Editor).

 

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Call Your State Legislators · Community Activism · Stand Up for Civilization · Stand Up for Norms

Live in Minnesota, New Hampshire, New York, or Maine? Ask Your State Legislators to Kill, Rescind, or Defend Against a Call for a Constitutional Convention

Do you live in Minnesota, New Hampshire, New York, or Maine? Ask your state legislators to kill, rescind, or defend against a call for a Constitutional Convention (Con Con).

 

We at OTYCD have written about the long-term right-wing goal of calling a Con Con. The idea of a Constitutional convention isn’t inherently bad, but what its far-right advocates want to achieve IS inherently bad, and needs to be stopped.

 

The best way to stop a Con Con is to elect more Democrats to state legislatures–the entities that can put the call forward, and cancel the call as well.

 

On November 6, 2018, voters in several states did just that–they elected more Democrats. In seven states, they elected enough Democrats to flip one or both legislative chambers from red to blue.

 

In May 2018, we at OTYCD explained how to find out if your state legislature had passed a resolution in support of a Con Con, and explained how to ask your state legislators to rescind the resolution. It’s definitely doable; Nevada, Maryland, and New Mexico all rescinded in 2017.

 

In this post, we’re cross-checking the newly flipped legislatures against the map provided by the pro-Con Con people, so citizens in those states can ask their representatives to rescind a resolution or kill bills that are in progress.

 

We’ll be reproducing some language from that blog post to illustrate these points.

 

But first! If you don’t know who your state house rep and state senator are, go to the link below and plug in your address and zip code to get their names:

https://whoaremyrepresentatives.org

 

Also, we should start with the good news: on the pro-Con Con org’s map, states colored green have passed the resolution. None of the states that flipped one or both of their chambers on Tuesday are green on that map.

 

New York flipped its Senate properly blue at long last. New York state is also blue on the Con Con map–that means active legislation was in at least one chamber in 2018.

 

Unfortunately, the map does not identify which of the two chambers the bill is in. (Theoretically, a blue state could have bills in both.)

 

New Yorkers should call or email their state legislators, explain what a Con Con is, and explain there’s a bill in at least one of the state chambers in 2018. Say that you want that bill halted, or better yet, killed.

 

 

The newly flipped Minnesota House is in a blue state on the Con Con map (its Senate is in GOP hands). It’s not clear which of the two chambers the bill is in, but Minnesotans should call their state house rep, explain about the Con Con, and ask them to kill the bill or remain on alert to kill it.

 

New Hampshire flipped both its chambers to Democratic control on Tuesday. It’s on the pro-Con Con map as a yellow state, which means legislation has passed one chamber.

 

As with the blue states, the map does not identify which of the two chambers has passed the bill. It’s also not specified when that yellow-state chamber passed the bill; it could predate 2018. It could predate 2018 by a lot.

 

New Hampshirites should contact their state reps, explain what a Con Con is, and explain that a pro-Con Con bill has passed one chamber, but it’s not clear which, or when. Say you oppose a Con Con resolution, and that you want your state reps to vote no on any Con Con resolution bills that might arrive on their desks.

 

Maine and Colorado flipped their state senates. Both appear on the pro-Con Con map colored white, which, by inference, means there’s no legislation pending there at the moment, and the states don’t appear to be current targets of the org.

 

Even still, it’s probably worth it for Mainers and Coloradans to call their state senators, explain what a Con Con is, and explain that while the state is not currently a target, you want your reps to oppose any attempt to push the initiative. It’s the project of a far-right-wing org called COS Action. COS stands for ‘Convention of States.’

 

 

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Call Your State Legislators · Elections · Ethics · Stand Up for Norms · Use Your Power, Recruit Friends

Ask Your State Legislators to Pass a Bill Requiring Presidential Candidates to Release Their Tax Returns Or Else

This OTYCD entry originally posted in April 2017.

Have a look at this bill that Massachusetts State Senator Michael Barrett proposed that would require all presidential and vice presidential candidates to release five years’ worth of tax returns, and ask your own state legislators to pass a similar bill. 

When the feds are asleep at the wheel, we citizens have to turn to state and local government to step in and steer as best they can. Trump promised to release his tax returns when he was a presidential candidate, but has consistently refused to honor his pledge. Enter Massachusetts state senator Mike Barrett, who’s doing his best to make sure no one else can pull the same move without consequences.

In January he proposed Bill S.365, titled An Act Restoring Financial Transparency in Presidential Elections. If passed, it would require all presidential and vice presidential candidates to release five years’ worth of tax returns if they want to appear on the state’s ballot. Candidates who fail to comply lose the right to appear on the ballot; they could only compete as a write-in.

Brendan Berger, who handles communications for Barrett, says the state senator consulted constitutional law professor Laurence Tribe, on the bill, and reports that Tribe believes it will pass muster.

Could your state pass something similar?

First, check and make sure your state legislators aren’t already on the case. A handful of states, all heavily Democratic, are pursuing similar measures.

If your state legislators aren’t mulling a bill like this one yet, call or email them and ask them to consider it.

To find your state legislators, plug your address and zip code into this web site:

https://whoaremyrepresentatives.org

Once you have the two names you need, go to the web site for your state legislature and find the contact information for your state senator and state house rep.

Contacting your state house rep and state senator is different from contacting your federal-level reps. Calls and emails are equally effective, and you’re far more likely to get through to the actual elected official. It might be best to start with your state senator, seeing as Barrett is a state senator.

Sample email: Dear State Senator (Lastname), I am (Firstname Lastname), and I live in (town, zip code). I am emailing to ask if you would consider introducing a bill that would require all presidential and vice presidential candidates to release five years’ worth of tax returns in order to appear on our state’s ballot. Having a law like this in place would prevent future candidates from refusing to release their returns, as Trump has. I have (attached/included a link) to a Massachusetts bill now under consideration that is designed to address this issue. Thanks for considering my request. Sincerely, (Firstname Lastname).

 

Read the text of Massachusetts State Senator Mike Barrett’s bill:

https://malegislature.gov/Bills/190/S365/Senate/Bill/Text

 

Read Barrett’s statement about his bill, S.365, which explains it in plainer language:

http://myemail.constantcontact.com/Mass–law-can-compel-presidential-candidates-to-release-their-tax-returns—So-let-s-do-it—The-Barrett-Report–December–2016-.html?soid=1110058483636&aid=dXsAzV6_NRA

 

Read stories from Massachusetts newspapers on Barrett’s bill:

https://www.boston.com/news/politics/2016/12/15/this-massachusetts-bill-could-block-donald-trump-from-the-ballot-in-2020

http://lexington.wickedlocal.com/news/20161214/senator-mike-barret-d-lexington-wants-presidential-candidates-tax-returns-to-run-for-office-in-massachusetts

 

This Politico article contains references to efforts in Illinois and New Mexico to pass state bills that are similar to that of Barrett’s (scroll down a good bit):

http://www.politico.com/story/2017/02/state-legislators-trump-trolling-234919

 

Special thanks to Brendan Berger for answering OTYCD‘s questions about Mike Barrett’s bill via DM on Twitter. Please follow him: @brendanberger

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Call Your House Rep · Call Your Members of Congress · Call Your Senators · Ethics · Stand Up for Norms · Use Your Power, Recruit Friends

Support the MAR-A-LAGO Act, Which Would Require Trump to Disclose the Visitor Logs of the White House and Mar-A-Lago

This OTYCD entry originally posted in April 2017.

Call your members of Congress to express support for the Make Access Records Available to Lead American Government Openness Act, aka the MAR-A-LAGO Act, which would require Trump to release the names in the visitor logs of the White House and Mar-a-Lago after 90 to 120 days.

It is making its way through both sides of Congress now, as H.R. 1711 in the House of Representatives and as S. 721 in the Senate.

President Obama adopted a policy of releasing the names of most of the people who visited the White House within 90 to 120 days. The only exceptions Obama made were for people deemed “politically sensitive.” This was not a formal rule from Congress; Obama’s administration came up with it and chose to abide by it.

The Trump administration has yet to pass the 90-day mark as we draft this blog post. But he and his minions have shown a proclivity for secrecy and concealment. Trump has also done a fair amount of presidential work at Mar-a-Lago, his private club in Palm Beach, Florida, where he charges new members $200,000 to join–a price that doubled since he took office.

The MAR-A-LAGO Act would promote transparency by requiring Trump to release visitor logs for the White House, Mar-a-Lago, and any other place where he might conduct presidential business, such as Trump Tower and his network of hotels and golf courses.

Sample script: “Hello, I am (Firstname Lastname, from town, zip code). I am calling to ask House Rep/Senator (Lastname) to support H.R. 1711/ S. 721, the MAR-A-LAGO act. The MAR-A-LAGO act would promote transparency by requiring Trump to routinely release visitor logs for the White House, Mar-a-Lago, and other venues where he conducts presidential business. Given the Trump administration’s penchant for secrecy, a law like this one would be a good idea. Thank you.”

 

Read a GovTrack Insider article about the MAR-A-LAGO Act:

https://govtrackinsider.com/mar-a-lago-act-would-mandate-trump-release-visitor-logs-from-his-white-house-and-florida-club-3731b9a00966

 

See GovTrack’s page on the senate version of the bill, S. 721:

https://www.govtrack.us/congress/bills/115/s721

 

See GovTrack’s page on the house version of the bill, H.R. 1711:

https://www.govtrack.us/congress/bills/115/hr1711/details

 

 

 

 

Call Your House Rep · Call Your Members of Congress · Call Your Senators · Community Activism · Ethics · Marches and Protests · Postcard Campaigns · Russian Scandal, Emoluments Clause · Stand Up for Norms · Use Your Power, Recruit Friends · Vote with your Dollars

Never Stop Demanding That Congress Investigate Trump’s Ties to Russia and His Violations of the Constitution

This OTYCD entry originally posted in March 2017.

Trump and his minions have done, or tried to do, any number of horrible things. Most of them demanded an immediate answer. Others demanded ongoing attention.

 

Several people are speaking up to say the daily shenanigans are distracting us from focusing on the two issues that have the power to force Trump from office: His financial conflicts of interest, and the Russian hacking scandal, which should shed light on Trump’s curious connections to Putin.

 

To be fair, these issues have not been forgotten, just overshadowed. A team of lawyers from the Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) is suing Trump over his violations of the Constitution’s Emoluments clause. Jerry Nadler, a house rep from New York who sits on the house judiciary committee, recently filed a resolution of inquiry into Trump, an early step on the road to impeachment. Members of Congress are pursuing bipartisan investigations into the Russian hacking scandal, despite Republican attempts to keep such queries under its party’s control (which would let them soft-pedal the findings).

 

But the blogger behind The Liberal Yell rightly points out that it’s on us, the citizens, to keep pressing Congress to stay on the two issues that could end Trump’s presidency, and we should support their efforts to do so.

 

See the blog below.

 

http://theliberalyell.com/focus-people-there-are-only-two-things-to-demand-of-congress-in-regards-to-trump/

 

To summarize: TLY asks us to stay firmly on these two issues, regardless of what other evils Trump looses. No matter what happens, do not lose sight of the need to look into Trump’s Emoluments clause violations and the importance of getting to the bottom of the Russian hacking.

 

Scroll all the way down to the bottom of the post for a great tool–a custom postcard demanding investigations into both issues, which you can download and print and mail and hand out to others.

 

 

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!

 

 

Read about bipartisan efforts to investigate the Russian hacking scandal, and Republican resistance to it:

http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/onpolitics/2017/02/02/senate-panel-investigate-russian-election-interference/97411482/

http://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2017/1/10/14220484/house-dems-bipartisan-probe-russian-hacking

http://www.snopes.com/mitch-mcconnell-blocked-investigating-russian-hacks/

 

 

Learn about New York House Representative Jerry Nadler’s filing of a resolution of inquiry into Trump, and its implications:

https://www.countable.us/articles/237-preliminary-impeachment-inquiry-filed-president-trump

Call Your State Legislators · Online Privacy, Net Neutrality

Urge Your State Legislators to Protect Your Privacy on the Internet

This OTYCD entry originally posted in May 2017.

 

Call and email your state legislators and ask them to create laws that will protect your privacy on the Internet.

 

Earlier, we urged you to call your house reps and ask them to vote against H.R. Res 86, which, if passed, would gut consumer privacy protections online. (We’re sure you won’t be surprised to know the bill was entirely sponsored by Republicans.) Well, it passed, and Trump signed it.

 

Now we must turn to our state legislators to protect us from those who would harvest our data and sell it.

 

Some state legislatures are already on the case. Illinois is working on a European-style “right to know” law that would tell customers what information search engines and social media platforms are gathering on them, and who they’re selling it to. Minnesota is mulling a law that would stop Internet Service Providers (ISPs) from selling consumer information without written permission. Massachusetts state senators just introduced a bill similar to Minnesota’s.

 

The first step in asking your state legislators to pass laws protecting your online privacy is knowing who they are.

 

Find your state senator and house rep here, as well as your state attorney general:

https://whoaremyrepresentatives.org/

 

 

Then call or email them and ask them to pass laws that protect consumer privacy online, assuming they aren’t already doing that. If they are, tell them that you support their efforts, and ask what you can do to help make them law.

 

 

Sample script: “Hello, I am <Firstname Lastname from town, zip code>. I am contacting you to ask you to write, support, and pass laws that will protect <state name> consumers’ online privacy. As you know, Trump recently signed a law that allows Internet Service Providers to harvest information about their users’ online movements and sell it to third parties. I would like you and your colleagues to consider bills like those being discussed in Minnesota and Massachusetts, which would not let ISPs sell someone’s data without their written permission. Illinois is also considering a bill that would force search engines and social media platforms to tell consumers what data they’re gathering, and who they’re selling it to. Laws like these would do much to protect our privacy online. Thank you.”

 

 

Subscribe to One Thing You Can Do by clicking the blue button on the upper right or checking the About & Subscribe page. And tell your friends about the blog!

 

 

Read about the states’ reaction to the passage of HR Res 86:

 

 

Read about the efforts in the Illinois and Minnesota state legislatures to protect their residents’ online privacy:

Now that the US federal government doesn’t care about internet privacy, states are stepping in

 

 

Call Your State Legislators · Community Activism

Urge Your State Legislators To Pass Laws That Stop Police Forces From Accepting Surplus Military Equipment

This OTYCD entry originally posted in September 2017.

 

Contact your state legislators–your state senator and state house rep–and urge them to pass laws that prevent your state’s police departments from accepting surplus military combat gear that the federal government might offer to their forces. 

 

In August 2017, Trump issued an executive order that reversed a 2015 executive order of President Obama’s which had barred American police forces from accepting castoff military gear. Before Obama’s order, the police had access to some heavy-duty stuff: armored vehicles, grenade launchers, bayonets, and more.

 

Obama had issued his order partly in response to concerns about how the local police had handled protests in Ferguson, Missouri after a white police officer killed Michael Brown. In explaining why Trump was lifting the ban, U.S. Attorney Jeff Sessions stated, “Those restrictions went too far. We will not put superficial concerns above public safety.”

 

We can’t stop the feds from offering the military gear to state police departments. But we can ask state legislators to pass laws that stop police departments from accepting it.

 

Back in March 2015, Montana state legislator Nicholas Schwaderer, a Republican, wrote just such a bill. It passed with bipartisan support, and Montana’s governor, Democrat Steve Bullock, signed it into law.

 

First, find the contact information for your state representatives. If you don’t know who they are, plug your address into this search engine, and it’ll tell you:

http://www.whoaremyrepresentatives.org

 

State representatives are far easier to reach directly than federal representatives, though some do have an intern or a staffer. State reps are also far less likely to be stratified in their views–conservative Democrats and liberal Republicans still exist on the state level.

 

Here is a suggested script for calling or writing your state reps:

“Dear (Senator/House Rep Lastname,) I am (Firstname Lastname, from town, zip code). I am (calling/emailing) to ask you to write a bill that would prevent state police departments from receiving castoff military gear, such as bayonets, armored vehicles, and grenade launchers. I believe that the state’s police departments should not have the opportunity to use equipment designed for warfare against the citizens they are supposed to protect and serve. Writing a bill that prevents the police from accepting military gear from the federal government will keep us all safer. Thank you.”

 

Read more about Trump’s executive order on castoff military gear:

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-41078158

http://www.npr.org/2017/08/28/546743742/trump-administration-lifts-limits-on-military-hardware-for-police

http://www.slate.com/blogs/the_slatest/2017/08/28/cops_can_already_get_military_gear_trump_s_new_policy_ensures_they_can_use.html

 

Read about the Montana bill and its success:

https://newrepublic.com/article/144600/trump-wants-re-militarize-police-montana-none-it

http://mtpr.org/post/bill-would-stop-montana-police-using-military-surplus

http://mtpr.org/post/montana-republican-praises-presidents-restrictions-military-surplus-police

 

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