Scum and Villainy in Congress

 

It was merely one week ago when Jimmy Kimmel used his opening monologue to tearfully share the story of his newborn’s heart defect and make a plea to all to support health care. In the days following, we say think pieces and musings about how Kimmel’s passionate plea would affect the outcome of the renewed ACA Repeal (and Replace but not really, who are they kidding?) bill.

We got that answer of course when the House voted to kill people. I’m positive that sounds overly dramatic to some people but it’s really not. Just yesterday someone on Twitter explained to me that no one is going to die from ACA repeal because it’s illegal for an ER to refuse anyone treatment. They do chemotherapy in emergency rooms now?
“Everyone will have access to healthcare” does not equal “Everyone will be able to get healthcare they can afford.”

In the day and even hours leading up to the repeal vote, every resistance organizer’s newsletter was urging everyone to pick up their phone and call their congressional rep. At this point, some of us are burnt out with phone calling when we know it isn’t going to do any good for our particular representative. You can tell when it’s doing good to call and when it’s not.

I mean, when your rep is someone like Tom Reed? Save your breath. His staff is wonderful and courteous, for what it’s worth. Reed himself is one of those congresspersons who held town halls with enormous turnout where his constituents told him very clearly not to vote “yes” to repeal ACA. There certainly wasn’t anyone at those town halls begging him to vote yes. You would literally hear conversations where Reed would say, “ACA is terrible and doesn’t work for many people” and have several people reply, “ACA saved my life” and Reed would be like, “I respect that we have a difference of opinion.” It became crystal clear to me that he was not listening and would not be acting on our behalf. The last correspondence I had with Rep Tom Reed was to tell him it would be my personal mission to make sure he doesn’t get reelected. I already started with my Mom. This was easy. All I had to do was tell her he was a Yankees fan. He will not get her vote for sure now.

Then this past weekend, after voting to repeal ACA, Tom Reed bravely held more town halls to try to defend his vote. People weren’t happy. He lied to a 14 year old diabetic boy about preexisting conditions. He also lied to a kidney donor.
↑↑
Those links are all videos so you can see this awful man in action.

So, if you didn’t call your Congressperson because that’s the same nonsense you have in your district, I get it.  You’ll get no reprimand from me. Moving forward, we’ll see what the Senate comes up with and resist accordingly.  Maybe they’ll be more persuaded by Kimmel’s plea and only put forth something that passes The Kimmel Test.

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I’m so, so tired this week. Winter is wearing on me. Maybe I’m coming down with something. Everything is exhausting and frustrating.
I’ve had technical difficulties getting inventory into my new online shop that I just had no patience to deal with this week, and then felt terrible that I wasn’t working harder on it. The emotional labor required for political activism these days is taxing on it’s own but this week it has felt especially overwhelming.

I need a nap and probably a few hours just to do nothing but watch videos of baby goats in pajamas or a couple episode of Drunk History.

The one bit of good news today was that Labor Secretary nominee Andrew Puzder withdrew his name from consideration. This was one cabinet pick I had intended to fight hard against and had a post ready for tomorrow making that case with actions to take. This saves me the trouble. He was one nominee who had a good chance of not being confirmed, thanks to a pile of allegations that even Republicans couldn’t get behind. We may even have to thank Oprah a bit for this.

One of the reasons given for withdrawing was that he was “tired of the abuse”. Classic abuser and oppressor trying to claim the role of victim.

Earlier this week I was thinking that putting a lot of effort into challenging these nominations might be a waste of time and energy and the best thing to do would be to strategize how to deal with them once confirmed to the administration. At the same time, it would never feel right to not stage a very vocal opposition ,regardless of knowing how it would ultimately play out. The protests and vocal criticism against Puzder played a huge part in his decision today. It can’t ever hurt to organize and oppose anything this administration does, whether it’s cabinet nominees or executive orders. We definitely need to do both of these things – fierce resistance while planning for worst outcomes.


Here’s my song of the day

Inauguration Day Housekeeping

Just a few things to do today & this weekend…

ο Unfollow all social media Donald Trump will be using. You won’t miss anything. The media will tell us whenever he whines on Twitter.

ο If you’re home today, find something to do while the Inauguration is going on. Don’t watch it. Read a book. Rage clean.Plan your garden. Have a friend over for coffee. Go for a walk. Anything. This doesn’t have as much to do with “making the ratings low”. It’s about not participating in Trump’s presidency from the very start.

ο Pay attention to the news sources covering the transition. If they’re embracing this presidency and normalizing Trump, that’s not the news source for us.

ο If you haven’t already been thinking about it, this is a good weekend to really put some thought into you action plan for resistance. How much time per week can you commit to phone calling representatives and challenging every single thing this administration does? If you feel overwhelmed by the amount of issues at hand, choose just one or a few that are the most important to you to focus your efforts on.
Are there accessible ways to help others in your community?Are you willing to put your body on the line during non-violent actions? Are you willing to be arrested? Thin

ο Plan to be a nuisance. Be ungovernable. Be tedious and persistent. Disrupt not only government but disrupt businesses tied to Trump or that you know support Trump. If you can, DISRUPT J20 . Withhold your labor.

ο If you’re attending a protest or march today or this weekend, be prepared. Know your rights. Set up a buddy system. Document police abuses. Help others. Be aware of everything going on around you.  Read this guide for more tips.
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Actions for 12/06/16

I’m behind on keeping track of the develops in the Trump cabinet and such. Or I should say, I’m keeping track but keep forgetting to update here. After it was announced that my own local Congressman Tom Reed accepted the role as vice president of Trump’s transition team, I flipped some tables and took a slight break.

This may not seem odd to anyone else but I found it hella creepy that his acceptance speech is all “we” not “I”.   I suspect this man may be human- Gollum.

I have made it now to the acceptance phase of the stages of grief. I accept that this presidency is really happening . I also accept that I may have to spend the next four years in a near constant state of rage fueled vigilance. Fine. Bring it.

And to be clear, there was work to be done w/ Democrats running the show. There has been the past eight years. Now there’s just more work and a harder fight. I will resume with the regular poor as folk stuff here as normal but it’s quite obvious that the need for actions and activism will have to be ongoing. I’ll keep posting the ideas, you keep being awesome and do whatever you personally can to get shit done.

I’m also keeping this post updated frequently: Resources, Info, and Tips for Activism Right Now.
I’ll probably post new actions & such in their own post ,then move it to that link to serve as a master list. You can also find the individual posts easily through the Activism & Advocacy category.

Ok. Ready? Here’s some things you can be doing this week and onward:

  • write a letter to the editor , either to your local papers or a national one. You can address the general concerns of a Trump presidency and his cabinet or make it specific with the bottom line urging others who feel the same to take action as well.  It doesn’t have to be long. From my experience, if it’s too long, it might not get space.

 

  • This is from the Resist newsletter: “Tip submitted by a helpful reader!  Our president-elect is going on a grotesque, Hitlerian “victory tour,” in which he will elucidate his scattershot, xenophobic philosophy to an ecstatic crowd… or will he? Cincinnati’s event was only 2/3 full. You can register for upcoming events for free here: https://www.donaldjtrump.com/schedule/  You can reserve multiple tickets with no plans to attend! Let’s fill the stadiums with phantoms, instead of warm, grotesquely racist bodies.”
  • The Republican Jewish Coalition is supporting Steve Bannon’s appointment. Thanks to #FightTrump for this info.
    1. Call the RJC at (202) 638-6688
    2. Here’s a draft script you can use- we highly recommend that if you are Jewish and/or have ever been a registered Republican, you include personal reasons why you believe the RJC should oppose Bannon.

    Hi, thanks for answering! My name is _____ and I’m calling because I was disappointed to see that the Republican Jewish Coalition has not opposed Steven Bannon as a White House senior counselor. I know the RJC is a strong defender of Jewish Americans and the Jewish tradition of opposing injustice. It is shocking to me that the RJC would support a man who has directly financially profited from anti-semitism and white nationalism. These ideologies pose a serious threat to Jewish Americans – and all Americans. [If you are a Republican or Jewish mention that here – tell them that the RJC’s stance will affect your willingness to give to the organization and your willingness to vote for Republicans]. Thank you for your time and consideration.

  • There is currently no way to track hate crimes (except in NY). A new bill was just introduced to establish a hate crime hotline . Not only would a hotline ensure a safe way for victims to seek justice but it also would give real data on hate crimes and in my mind, you can’t fight hate without seeing the whole scope of what’s happening.
    You can call the following to express support for this bill:
    • The House Judiciary Committee
    (202) 225-3951
    • Bob Goodlatte (VA R, chairman)
    (202) 225-5431(540) 432-2391
    • John Conyers Jr. (MI D, ranking member)
    (202) 225-5126(313) 961-5670
    • The White House
    (202) 456-1111
    •  Judiciary Committee members from your state (click on their name to find their phone number)
  • Read up. Social Justice Work During the Trump Era Syllabus is a great reading list.

 

 

 

ICYMI Post-Election News: Weekend Edition for Nov 19 & 20

People want to be informed about what’s happening w/ the president-elect but they may not have time to follow all the news or for their own self-care, are limiting their exposure to social media right now. These ICYMI updates will be basic bullet points of the daily happenings with call to actions. I will generally just post the news  without my own commentary. I will include essays and thoughts from around the web after the news portion to give perspectives from marginalized folks.

 

Weekend of November 19- 20

Action Alerts 

This week is a short week due to Thanksgiving break so calls should be made ASAP.

  • New Yorkers! Senator Kirsten Gillibrand’s office is taking a concerned citizens’ tally so she can use it on the floor against Bannon. CALL. You can call any of her offices throughout the state, no matter where you live so if you get a busy signal on one just go down this list of numbers till you get through:
    Hudson Valley: (845) 875-4585
    Albany: (518) 431-0120
    Buffalo: (716) 854-9725
    Long Island: (631) 249-2825
    New York City: (212) 688-6262
    North Country: (315) 376-6118
    Rochester: (585) 263-6250
    Syracuse: (315) 448-0470*My note* One of her offices said that she is NOT doing any such tally and I didn’t get a clear clarification yet but either way, you can still call to voice concern about Bannon
  • Call your Congressman and state reps to voice concern about Bannon as Chief Stategist , Jeff Sessions as Attorney General,and whatever other appointments are objectionable to you.
  • Call the House Oversight Committee. Rep. Elijah Cummings is calling for a bipartisan review of the financial arrangements Trump has made for his businesses to ensure there’s no conflict of interest. 202-225-5074 & can also call Chaffetz directly, (801) 851-2500.
    If it’s easier for you, you can use a script like this:
    “I’m —- —– , a constituent calling to let the committee know that I support Rep. Elijah Cummings’s call for a bipartisan review of Trump’s “financial arrangements” for potential conflicts of interest before he’s sworn in as president. Please ask Chairman Chaffetz to immediately begin conducting a review to ensure that President-elect Trump does not have any actual or perceived conflicts of interests. I want the Committee to make sure Trump and his advisers comply with all legal and regulatory ethical requirements.”
  • Speaker Paul Ryan has a survey about ACA. It was closed last week but reopened at a new number. This one is super easy. No talking involved, just press the number after the prompt. Also, when you call, there’s no sign that it’s connecting. The line is silent. You just have to hang on for a moment or two to wait for the voice recording. The new number is  Call (202) 225 – 3031. You can also leave a voice mail if you choose
  • This Twitter list is every rep who tweets. If you’re not familiar with Twitter lists, it’s a separate timeline of tweets just from specific users added to that list. While tweeting back at these reps isn’t effective, it’s been helpful for me to check in to get an idea of where certain reps are at.
  • If possible, support your local abortion fund.

Resources

Free legal help for transgender people

 

Other reads

Steve Bannon is the Racist Far-Right Internet Personified — and He Hates Women and Gay People, Too

The BGD Podcast 11.16.16: Donald Trump Got Elected, What Now?

TRUMPLED , Or OMG WHAT HAVE WHITE PEOPLE DONE?

 

I’ve been seeing this Dylan Thomas quote shared a lot during the past week. The poem is about death but it’s nice how it fits to resistance of other things as well.
(My 1st born is named after Dylan Thomas, so it does give me some warm & fuzzies)

 


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weekend links

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» Fifty years later, Black Panthers’ art still resonates – this weekend marks the 50th anniversary of the Black Panthers’, the architects of our current day school lunch and WIC program.

» More colleges open food pantries to address hunger on college campuses

» Exploring the Untold Stories of Refugees with Rolling Blackouts Cartoonist Sarah Glidden

»  Does Big Ag Really Feed the World? New Data Says Not So Much

» via  Bad memes I made on my phone …

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This is a fascinating lost interview from 1979 with Ronald Reagan , 18 months before he was elected President. I think listening to this helps me understand why my Grandfather  (grew up poor during that same era) loved Reagan so much. It’s interesting to hear him discuss the way the political parties had shifted at that point. Much talk of bootstraps. He says the way to help poor people is that poor people have to “get over” being poor like it’s a mindset and not an economic situation.

 

 

Despite Our Saviour Gwyneth Paltrow, politicians are still being jerks to poor people

Ok, let’s get this over with before moving on to more important things.

Gwyneth Paltrow went food shopping with $29 and pretending to be poor for a week. You might have heard about it. 

She only made it through 4 days and then went back to biz as usual but predictably, as with other celebs & politicians who pretend to eat poor, she was applauded for raising hunger awareness and showing people how to eat with $29/week. Because we poor people had no idea before.

The disregard for poor people’s voices is what I’d rather address more than how ridiculous Gwyneth’s SNAP challenge was.

People who are actually on SNAP tried to tell what it’s like to live on SNAP and were told to sit down and shut up. We were told to stop picking on Gwyneth. Be grateful that someone is trying to speak up for us. Those telling poor people to appreciate the celeb’s efforts claimed to be “advocates for the poor”. Allies. Yes, allies!

Dear Allies –
If your ally-ship involves silencing the voices of marginalized people in order to boost those of privileged people who lack the firsthand knowledge and experience, than your ally-ship is crap.

Love,
All the marginalized people

People who are living in poverty are constantly explaining the challenges they face daily. Please listen to them. If you have the opportunity, share their experiences with others. Amplify their voices in a way that does not exploit them but empowers them.

Thank you. The end.

Meanwhile, in Kansas this week, the strangest welfare reform bill was passed. The bill was designed to prevent TANF recipients from spending government assistance money on things that poor people on welfare love according to popular stigmas instead of research, like tattoos, beer,cigarettes,lottery tickets, and fortune tellers. No taking cruises,either.Or going to the movies and swimming at public pools.

The average TANF benefit in Kansas is $114 per person. Besides the obvious question of what sort of cruise one can take for that money, most are wondering how to get around the logistics the state has put in place to try to enforce the new rules. TANF recipients can now only withdraw $25 at a time using their EBT cards. So, I guess landlords and utility companies will have to be patient and learn to accept $25 at a time? That sounds like an added frustration and stress poor people don’t need. Also,the fee for each transaction at an ATM is 85¢ after the 1st one and if using the cashback option at a register, whatever fees the store applies. A typical family of 3 would have to make a dozen trips to the ATM and then not even get their full amount thanks to bank fees.

In Indiana, Rep Terry Goodin (D- Austin) is proposing a drug testing for welfare bill. Via Indy Feminists, “He admits it’s an urban myth and that only 9 adults without kids are using TANF in Scott County, but he still wants to use 2 million in tax dollars for this discredited plan.”

This drug testing bill is slightly different from others in that the basis is to prevent the spread of HIV through IV drug use and based on flawed ethics. Still, it’s operating on the mythical  premise that those on TANF hold the key to pinpointing where HIV drug use is happening.  And they will spend $2 million to find out that’s not actually the case.

Also, Missouri is the latest state to introduce a bill to restrict what SNAP can be used for. No seafood (which might even include tuna & fish sticks) ,steak,cookies, and whatever else poor people aren’t entitled to eat.

That concludes all the new policies happening in the States this month. I think we’ll continue to see “welfare reform”  and SNAP restrictions on the state levels. We could have a whole passel of celebs do SNAP challenges and it isn’t going to affect policies.  I think anti-poverty advocates who have concentrated their efforts on keeping safety net programs available need to extend the effort out wider. We need to be working on multiple fronts here to help low income families. Better wages for working families and  benefits for disabled and elderly people would make a world of difference. Demand living wages, reduce need for safety net programs. Ta-da.

The holidays are over but please remember to support your local food bank & anti-poverty organizations

image via Cartoon Politics

Consider this your annual reminder that poor people are poor the other 11 months of the year,too. It’s nice to have a box of good food for the holidays but there are other times people could use the help.

Most low income and homeless organizations see a major upswing in generosity between Thanksgiving and Christmas. My local food bank,Food Bank of the Southern Tier,says  donations in December account for 30% of their annual total but then drop down to 3.5% in January. Winter in my area (NY) can be pretty harsh, as it is in much of the country. Having to choose between keeping the heat on and buying food is a very real thing. Food banks have been struggling,too, and some can’t fill the needs of every family.

When the winter is over, some families with children face the struggle of having to feed children during summer break and not every area has a free lunch program during those months.

Needless to say, people who are homeless face the added challenge of not freezing to death on the street. During the coldest nights, most shelters fill quickly but that problem aside, some people are turned away from shelters for other reasons (Transgender people are often excluded from shelters. Some shelters also have a policy barring addicts. Other shelters may not allow children at all, or some men’s shelters won’t allow a single father to bring children in. ). Some people feel unsafe in overcrowded shelters or may be trying to stay clean and avoid potentially being around drugs or behaviors that trigger,so will choose to sleep elsewhere.

If you’re inclined to donate to anti-hunger and anti-homeless programs during the holidays, perhaps think about spreading out your donation at other times in the year.

Food banks really like cash donations so they can allocate the funds where they’re needed the most. A cash donation can breakdown like this:

image via Food Bank of the Southern Tier 

If you have extra sleeping bags,blankets, or warm clothes, maybe ask your local homeless org if they are in need.  If you’re active in church or social organization, maybe consider organizing a food drive during that “off season” when food banks and soup kitchens don’t get too much love.

 


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