What to Do This Week of January 1, 2017

by Jan 4, 2017Opinion, What To Do This Week0 comments

Actions for Democrats, Independents, and Republicans of conscience

There are two weeks until DJT takes office


The intention of this weekly document is to make clear suggestions for action backed with well-considered research. You don’t need to do them all–just the ones that align with your values and abilities. If an issue doesn’t affect you, consider whether you would support this issue on behalf of other Americans and act accordingly.

Although these topics have been well researched and are intended to be helpful, they are still subject to human error. Please do your own research!

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Happy New Year

This is a long one. But we’ll start with good news and end with a whole slew of more good news, okay?


The power of our voices

First of all, with less than 24 hours notice, the people opposed an effort to gut the independent congressional ethics committee in favor of self-policing and–get this–it WORKED. Although most news sources are crediting DJT’s statement with the abrupt change of course, insiders are saying it was public outrage that did it, specifically phone calls.

Congresswo/men want to be reelected. When you speak up, they listen.


The risks ahead of us

On January 20, we will have a president who doesn’t respect the constitution, whose advisers deal in conspiracy theories and fear mongering, and whose incoming cabinet has deep ties to foreign leaders, big oil, and racist ideology. For anyone who isn’t white, straight, male, and worth more than a million dollars our, incoming leadership appears to care little about you.

But this is not who we are. We still have a voice. “If you feel hopeless, it’s because you’re not doing enough.” When I wake up filled with dread, these words remind me– don’t fret, just do more.

Do something.


How to act strategically

Which brings us to this week’s action checklist. As Americans of conscience, the most important issue for action is the senate’s cabinet confirmation hearings.

We must oppose DJT’s many nominees who have unprecedented conflicts of interest that risk the integrity of our democracy. The good news? Speaking up might effect change since the senate needs 51 votes to confirm, and Republicans hold only 52 spots. Don’t assume your senators will make the right choice for our country. Be clear and unyielding.

Make calls. It works. Based on the advice of my own senator’s staff, make these calls before hearings begin on Jan 10. This means right now, for each cabinet appointee you feel is unfit to serve, there are two specific actions to take:

  1. Tell the Senate committee chair (Republican) you oppose the nominee.

  2. Tell the Senate ranking member (Democrat) you oppose the nominee.
  1. Optional: You can also call your own two senators to let them know.

Note: Do leave a message if you get voicemail or call after hours.

The following seven people are the Senate Democrats’ official “oppose” list. I’ll be suggesting more in next week’s email. Appointments with an asterisk* were major donors to djt campaign and/or PACs.

  1. Oppose Secretary of State nominee Rex Tillerson for ties to Exxon and Russia (source)

Committee: Foreign Relations Committee (more deets)

Call: Chair Bob Corker (R-TN) 202-224-3344

Call: Ranking member Ben Cardin (D-MD) 202-224-4524

Script: I am calling to oppose Rex Tillerson for Secretary of State. His ties to Russia and Exxon are a risk to our nation’s integrity and security.


  1. Oppose Attorney General nominee Jeff Sessions for racial bias and opposition to LGBT rights (source)

Committee: Senate Judiciary Committee (deets) hearings on Jan 10 and 11

Call: Chair Chuck Grassley 202-224-3744

Call: Ranking member Patrick Leahy 202-224-4242

Script: I am calling to oppose Jeff Sessions for Attorney General because I believe in the rights of gays and lesbians and people of color.


  1. Oppose Health and Human Services Secretary nominee Tom Price for his opposition to the Affordable Care Act (“Obamacare”). (source)

Committee: Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (deets) Note: this is the same committee as for Betsy DeVos and Andy Puzder (below), so combine them if you wish.

Call: Chairman Lamar Alexander 202-224-4944

Call: Ranking member Patty Murray 202-224-2621

Script: I am calling to oppose Tom Price for Secretary of Health and Human services. I believe we should be expanding health care coverage for Americans, not making it more difficult to access and afford.


  1. Oppose Education Secretary nominee Betsy DeVos* for her support of diverting tax dollars to private schools. (source)

Committee: Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (deets)

Call: Chairman Lamar Alexander 202-224-4944

Call: Ranking member Patty Murray 202-224-2621

Script: I am calling to oppose Betsy DeVos for Secretary of Education. I believe my tax dollars should fund a robust and free primary education to all Americans. Her plans would leave public schools even more underfunded.


  1. Oppose Labor Secretary nominee Andy Puzder* for his opposition to workers rights and fair wages (source) (implications)

Committee: Hearing on Jan 12 (deets) Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions

Call: Chairman Lamar Alexander 202-224-4944

Call: Ranking member Patty Murray 202-224-2621

Script: I am calling to oppose Andy Puzder for Labor Secretary. I value fair wages and worker’s rights, and Mr. Puzder seeks to weaken both.


  1. Oppose Mick Mulvaney’s appointment to Director of Management and Budget Office. (source) (opinion)

Committee 1: Senate Budget Committee (deets)

Call: Chairman Mike Enzi 202-224-3424

Call: Ranking member Bernie Sanders 202-224-5141

Committee 2: Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs (deets)

Call: Chairman Ron Johnson 202-224-5323

Call: Incoming ranking member Claire McCaskill 202-224-6154

Script: I am calling to oppose Mick Mulvaney’s appointment. I believe in honoring our country’s financial obligations and supporting affordable healthcare.


  1. Oppose Treasury Secretary nominee Steven Mnuchin for his history of predatory business practices (source)

Committee: Senate Finance Committee (deets)

Call: Chairman Orrin Hatch 202-224-5251

Call: Ranking member Ron Wyden 202-224-5244

Script: I am calling to oppose Steven Mnuchin (m’NOO-chin) for Treasury Secretary. I believe someone in this role needs to have a history of solid ethics and integrity.


Edit: I got an email from someone asking for clarification. Normally senators don’t want to hear from non-constituents. Here’s my reply:

Yes, that is absolutely 100% normally the case. However, we’re contacting them specifically in their role as leaders of the senate committee that will be vetting a cabinet member. Because of this, they absolutely need to hear from all constituents. It is also useful to contact one’s own senators about who you’re opposing, but for cabinet positions, we’ve got to tell the committee leaders how we feel and what we value.


Recommended reading

What we know so far about the Russian cyber attacks: Politico, Associated Press

Why Russian ties are bad for the West (prophetic article from July 2016): Slate

First reports on increased hate crimes since the election:  The New York Times

The limits of the press with a president who tweets his policy: PressThink

How to prevent normalizing djt & co. (opinion): The Guardian

Priebus’ relationship with DJT: The Hill

A 20-year-old waiter from Appalachia said it best: The Washington Post


Not normal

It is NOT NORMAL for a president-elect to raise money by charging people to see him. A normal president isn’t for sale.
Teen Vogue

It is NOT NORMAL for a president-elect and his staff to disregard the importance of free press. A normal president tolerates scrutiny and values many forms of communication.

It is NOT NORMAL for a Secretary of State nominee to have an offshore tax haven for his Russia-connected business. A normal SoS avoids any and all conflicts of interest for the good of the country’s security and integrity.
The Guardian

It is NOT NORMAL for a president-elect to assume the cause of an attack. A normal president is deliberate in their communication and avoids making accusations.
The Atlantic

It is NOT NORMAL for a House Speaker to willingly violate constitutional rights. A normal Speaker prefers open sharing of the democratic process.

It is NOT NORMAL. No words.

It is NOT NORMAL for a president-elect to pass off foreign aggression. A normal president handles foreign aggression in a deliberate and considered manner.

Good news

At last! I promised a whole slew of good news, so here is your reward for making all those phone calls. You did make those calls, right?

Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR) is fighting back with a plan against djt’s rigged cabinet appointments

President Obama commutes sentences for nonviolent federal inmates

Generous Israelis help Syrians

Making peace with enemies

DJT’s press criticism is helping the journalism industry

New ebola vaccine at 100% effectiveness

NYPD allows sikhs to wear turbans on duty

China bans ivory trade

Washington Post is adding 5 dozen reporters (even if they won’t use the word ‘lies’)



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