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Help Americans for the Arts #SaveTheNEA

This OTYCD entry originally posted in April 2017.

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

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

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

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

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

See the Americans for the Arts web page:

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

Like Americans for the Arts on Facebook:

https://www.facebook.com/americans4arts

Follow it on Twitter:

@Americans4Arts

Donate to Americans for the Arts:

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

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

http://www.arts.gov

Like its Facebook page:

https://www.facebook.com/NationalEndowmentfortheArts

…And follow its Twitter account:

@NEAarts

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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

 

 

 

 

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Stand Up for the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and Protect It From Republicans Who Want to Kill It (November 2017 Update)

This OTYCD entry originally posted in April 2017.

Call your members of Congress and speak up in favor of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), an independent watchdog agency that protects ordinary people from the excesses of banks, foreclosure firms, payday lenders, and other financial institutions.

 

Update: Trump is actively trying some shens to break the CFPB. Its first head, Richard Cordray, chose to leave his post in November 27. Procedure called for Leandra English to become acting head of the agency, but Trump flouted the rules and tried to install Mick Mulvaney, who, as you will recall, is already employed as the head of the White House Office of Management and Budget. Mulvaney, you won’t be surprised to learn, hates the CFPB and wants to hobble it, if not kill it.

 

English sought an emergency restraining order against Mulvaney and was denied. More lawsuits are likely. Read more about the borkitude of the situation in this New York Times piece:

 

 

Because of these moves, we at OTYCD have tweaked the calling script to reflect the latest attacks on the agency by Trump.

 

Original text follows, with updated script.

 

The brainchild of now-senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, the CFPB was created in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis. The Republicans have been gunning for it for years, and as you can imagine, the financial industry isn’t too fond of it, either.

 

The world of personal finance is complex and it’s only going to get more complex. The CFPB does vital work for citizens who are wronged by financial corporations large and small.

 

Important: Is your house rep on the Financial Services Committee? Is your senator on the Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs committee? Then it’s extra-important that you call. Check the links below before picking up the phone.

 

 

House Financial Services Committee members:

http://financialservices.house.gov/about/members.htm

 

 

Senate Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee:

https://www.banking.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/membership

 

 

Sample script: “Hello, I’m (Firstname Lastname, of town, zip code). I’m calling to ask Senator/House Rep (Lastname) to fight any efforts to cripple or declaw the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. It is an independent watchdog that provides financial education and aids ordinary people who have been hurt by banks, payday lenders, mortgage companies, credit score companies, and other financial entities whose mistakes can ruin lives. The CFPB has done good in its short existence. I ask you to defend it against Republicans who would render it toothless, and that includes supporting Leandra English as the rightful director of the agency. The CFPB line of succession was designed to protect its independence and insulate it from political meddling. Trump’s attempt to install Mick Mulvaney, who already has a job in the administration, is a blatant example of political meddling. Please go on record in support of English and in support of the independence of the CFPB.”

 

 

Visit the CFPB web site:

https://www.consumerfinance.gov

 

 

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!

 

 

Like it on Facebook:

https://www.facebook.com/CFPB/

 

 

Follow it on Twitter:

@CPFB

 

 

Read a Washington Post story about the history of the CPFB as of 2014:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2014/01/11/a-watchdog-grows-up-the-inside-story-of-the-consumer-financial-protection-bureau/?utm_term=.8da7b245e108

 

 

Read about Republican efforts to pass a bill killing the CPFB:

http://thehill.com/policy/finance/319517-gop-bill-would-eliminate-consumer-financial-protection-bureau

 

 

Read a New York Times op-ed defending the CPFB:

 

 

 

 

 

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Tell Your MoCs to Make Trump Keep Watch on Homegrown White Terrorists

This OTYCD entry originally posted in February 2017.

Call your members of Congress and ask them to make sure the Countering Violent Extremism (CVE) program keeps monitoring and prosecuting homegrown white terrorists.

 

Last month, the Trump administration announced plans to narrow the focus of a government anti-terrorism program run by the Department of Homeland Security.

 

The CVE covers homegrown terrorist threats as well as those hatched abroad. Trump and his minions floated the notion of changing the program’s name to “Countering Radical Islamic Extremism” and focusing it on Muslim terrorists–seemingly redirecting the program from stopping Neo-Nazis and white supremacists. White racist groups exist, and they and their members have been plotting and committing terrorist acts. The most infamous recent atrocity on American soil was Dylann Roof’s murder of nine worshippers at a historic black church in Charleston, South Carolina in 2015.

 

Limiting the CVE to Islamic terrorists is a bad idea. Wittingly or not, Trump’s racist statements and his failure to quickly and strenuously condemn incidents such as the Quebec mosque shooting in January, where a young white man killed six, have emboldened  racists. Signaling that the federal government no longer sees attacking non-whites and non-Christians as terrorism will only encourage the sicker individuals among them to lash out.

 

Important note: Does your House rep sit on the House Homeland Security Committee? Do you have a senator on the Senate Committee for Homeland Security & Government Affairs? Then it’s that much more important for you to call about this issue. Check the committee rosters before calling:

 

 

House Homeland Security Committee:

https://homeland.house.gov/full_committee/

 

 

Senate Committee for Homeland Security & Government Affairs:

https://www.hsgac.senate.gov/about

 

 

Sample script: “Hello, I am (Firstname Lastname, from town, zip code). I am calling to ask (House Rep/Senator Lastname) to push back against the Trump administration’s plan to narrow the focus of the Department of Homeland Security’s Countering Violent Extremism program. Trump evidently wants to change it to focus exclusively on what he calls “radical Islamic extremism.” Doing so would send a signal to the would-be Dylann Roofs of the world that they can attack non-white, non-Christian people and the federal government will look the other way. We need to focus on stopping and prosecuting terrorists regardless of what motivates them. Attacks by white racists can do as much damage, or more, as attacks by Muslims.”

 

 

Read an Independent article on the planned changes to the CVE:

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/donald-trump-cut-white-supremacism-countering-violent-extremism-programme-neo-nazi-counter-extremism-a7558796.html

 

 

Read the Department of Homeland Security’s main landing page for the CVE program, while it still reflects its broader focus:

https://www.dhs.gov/countering-violent-extremism

 

 

Read about the suspect in the Quebec mosque shooting:

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/montreal/quebec-city-mosque-attack-alexandre-bissonnette-1.3958559

 

 

Read about Dylann Roof’s attack on the Charleston church and his subsequent death penalty sentence:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/morning-mix/wp/2015/06/18/for-charlestons-emanuel-a-m-e-church-one-of-the-oldest-in-america-shooting-is-another-painful-chapter-in-long-history/?utm_term=.7c53fb65a5ab

 

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!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Call Your Members of Congress · Stand Up for Civilization · Stand Up for Norms

Ask your MoCs to Do Right by the 2020 Census

This OTYCD entry originally posted in June 2017.

Ask your members of Congress to fully fund the 2020 Census and ensure that it has a competent, non-partisan director.

 

The resignation of John H. Thompson, the U.S. Census Director, was easy to miss. It happened the same day that Trump fired FBI Director James Comey. Thompson quit because he felt the 2020 census was being woefully underfunded. His final day on the job will be June 30.

 

The government uses the census to allocate resources in vital areas such as education, law enforcement, and housing. The census can also change how Congressional districts are drawn, with states gaining or losing house reps based on their populations.

 

A look at Trump’s campaign rhetoric, cabinet choices, and overall governing style shows his contempt for facts and for gathering accurate data, regardless of the aim. A look at the FY2018 budget shows that the only resources the Trump administration is keen about allocating are those bound for the military. And as for reshaping the Congressional district maps? That’s only of interest to Trump and friends if it means creating more Congressional Republicans, or eliminating Congressional Democrats, or both.

 

The 2020 census will guide policy and shape the Congressional map for the next 10 years. We have an obligation and a duty to ensure that it’s fully funded and that it’s guided by a good, upstanding director.

 

Please call your members of Congress and ask them to give the U.S. Census the funds that it’s asked for, and to choose a competent, nonpartisan director.

 

Sample script: “I am (Firstname Lastname, from town, zip code), and I’m calling to ask (House Rep Lastname) to support full funding of the 2020 census and to back a competent, nonpartisan choice for its new director. The census is a huge project, and an important one. It gathers data that helps determine which Americans get which resources for a decade to come. It also has the power to reshape the Congressional map, creating and eliminating them as needed. Please do what is needed to ensure the success of the 2020 census, and please push back against any poor choices that the Trump administration might make.

 

 

Read about Thompson’s resignation, and the implications of that:

http://www.sciencemag.org/news/2017/05/departure-us-census-director-threatens-2020-count

http://www.npr.org/2017/05/11/527990617/u-s-census-bureau-director-john-thompson-abruptly-resigns

https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/social-issues/us-census-director-resigns-amid-turmoil-over-funding-of-2020-count/2017/05/09/8f8657c6-34ea-11e7-b412-62beef8121f7_story.html?utm_term=.4d4bdec3465d

https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/social-issues/census-watchers-warn-of-crisis-if-funding-for-2020-count-is-not-increased/2017/04/17/e6cc170a-20d6-11e7-a0a7-8b2a45e3dc84_story.html?utm_term=.b87ae3453624

 

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!

 

 

 

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Tell Your MoCs to Keep Church and State Separate By Leaving the Johnson Amendment Alone (GOP Tax Bill Update–Good News)

This OTYCD entry originally posted in June 2017.

Tell your members of Congress to reject any efforts to destroy or rewrite the Johnson Amendment, a restriction that affirms the separation of church and state.

GOP tax bill update: Congressional Republicans included language that would lift the Johnson Amendment in the GOP tax bill. When you call to ask your MoCs to vote against the tax bill, please ask them to fight to remove the language and preserve the Johnson Amendment. See our updates on fighting the GOP tax bill for a script for calling your MoCs.

Update to the update: Democrats succeeded in removing the language from the GOP tax bill that repeals the Johnson Amendment. Read more here:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2017/12/14/in-small-win-for-democrats-the-final-tax-bill-wont-include-a-provision-to-allow-churches-to-endorse-political-candidates/?utm_term=.a274d9645ca0

Original text follows.

Many people have wondered why so many evangelical Christians embraced candidate Donald Trump so heartily. Here’s your answer: He promised to gut the Johnson Amendment. Sponsored by then-Senator Lyndon Johnson and passed in 1954, it curtails the ability of tax-exempt organizations–churches included–to speak out on political issues.

According to the IRS web site, the Johnson Amendment says that tax-exempt organizations “are absolutely prohibited from directly or indirectly participating in, or intervening in, any political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) any candidate for elective public office.”

To be clear: A pastor is in fact free to stand up at his megachurch pulpit today and endorse a specific candidate for public office during an election cycle. But he would put his megachurch’s tax-exempt status at risk if he did so.

Killing the Johnson amendment would embolden that pastor to endorse candidates by name to his congregants without fear of the IRS coming down on him. Mega-churches could in essence choose to become political super PACs, and all that that implies. It’d be the second coming of Citizens United, and we’re only sort-of joking when we say that.

If you value the separation of church and state, you want the Johnson Amendment to stay in place and untouched.

Important: Do you live in a part of the country that is dominated by evangelical right-wing Christianity? Then it’s extra-important for you to call your members of Congress and speak in favor of retaining the Johnson Amendment.

Sample script: “Hello, I am (Firstname Lastname, from town, zip code), and I am calling to ask Senator/House Rep (Lastname) to fight any attempts to destroy or rewrite the Johnson Amendment. The law prevents tax-exempt organizations from endorsing political candidates. If it is removed, it would inject politics into the religious sphere in a way never before seen. Church and state should stay separate, for the good of both. Please retain the Johnson Amendment in its current form. Thank you.”

 

Read the tax code language that governs political expressions by tax-exempt organizations:

https://www.irs.gov/charities-non-profits/charitable-organizations/the-restriction-of-political-campaign-intervention-by-section-501-c-3-tax-exempt-organizations

 

Read an NPR brief on what the Johnson Amendment is, and isn’t:

http://www.npr.org/2017/02/03/513187940/the-johnson-amendment-in-five-questions-and-answers

 

Read about how Trump pleased the evangelical right by pledging to scrub the Johnson Amendment:

https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2016/08/how-trump-is-trying-to-put-more-money-in-politics/493823/

 

Read a Nonprofit Quarterly editorial speaking against the repeal of the Johnson Amendment:

https://nonprofitquarterly.org/2017/02/06/losing-johnson-amendment-destroy-unique-political-role-nonprofits/

 

Read about how the National Coalition of Nonprofits has launched a campaign to resist any changes to the Johnson Amendment:

https://nonprofitquarterly.org/2017/03/02/national-coalition-nonprofits-launches-campaign-oppose-repeal-johnson-amendment/

 

Read about a poll by Independent Sector, a champion of nonprofits, that shows a majority of voters support preserving the Johnson Amendment:

http://www.independentsector.org/news-post/national-poll-johnson-amendment/

 

Read an Atlantic piece from a rabbi who urges keeping the Johnson Amendment as is:

https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2017/02/a-rabbi-defends-the-johnson-amendment/516981/

 

 

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Call Your Members of Congress to Support the Presidential Conflicts of Interests Act

This OTYCD entry originally posted in February 2017.

 

Call your members of Congress to support the Presidential Conflicts of Interests Act of 2017.

 

Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren introduced it in the senate as S.65; Massachusetts Fifth District representative Katherine Clark introduced it in the house as H.R. 371.

 

If passed, it would reinforce the Emoluments clause of the Constitution by stating that the president and vice president must divest themselves of any assets that could pose a conflict of interest, and place them in a blind trust.

 

The law would also apply to those officials’ spouses and dependent children, but not their grown children or their spouses. It would also impose the same disclosure requirements on the president that are required of members of Congress.

 

In short, it would force Trump to do something that the last several presidents have done voluntarily, because it’s common sense.

 

 

Here is the congress.gov link to S.65, A bill to address financial conflicts of interest of the President and Vice President:

https://www.congress.gov/bill/115th-congress/senate-bill/65

 

 

Here is the congress.gov link to H.R. 371, which has pretty much the same title as the senate version:

https://www.congress.gov/bill/115th-congress/house-bill/371

 

 

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!

 

 

See this New York Times op-ed from Richard Painter, chief White House ethics lawyer under the Bush administration from 2005 to 2007, on Trump’s stated plans for complying with the Constitution:

 

See this (not very hopeful) Washington Post article about Warren and Clark’s legislative efforts:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/powerpost/wp/2017/01/09/democrats-introduce-conflicts-of-interest-act-but-are-unlikely-to-get-a-vote/?utm_term=.e4e1d52a6952

 

 

Here is Senator Elizabeth Warren’s press release on the bill. It names all its co-sponsors in the senate and the house. Do you see your members of Congress listed? If so, call and thank them for supporting these bills.

http://www.warren.senate.gov/?p=press_release&id=1342