Category Archives: Elected Officials

Missing Members of Congress Action Plan

Source: Indivisible, February 2017

From the summary:
Former congressional staff explain how to make your Members of Congress more accessible

Where on earth has your Member of Congress gone? Something strange has been happening in the last month or so: Members of Congress (MoCs) from all over the country are going missing. They’re still turning up for votes on Capitol Hill, and they’re still meeting with lobbyists and friendly audiences back home—but their public event schedules are mysteriously blank. Odd.

This is happening for a very simple reason: MoCs do not want to look weak or unpopular—and they know that Trump’s agenda is very, very unpopular. Remember: Every MoC wakes up every morning thinking, “How can I convince my constituents that they should reelect me?” That means MoCs are enormously sensitive to their local image, and they will work very hard to avoid signs of public disapproval from constituents. Some MoCs have clearly made the calculation that they can lay low, avoid their constituents, and hope the current storm blows over. It’s your job to change that calculus.

This toolkit describes how local groups can make missing MoCs more accessible. MoCs are gambling that out of sight means out of mind. It will take some work, but their constituents have power win at this game. It means getting active, standing together indivisible, and getting local press attention on your MoC’s cowardly behavior. This works–and this brief describes the nuts and bolts of getting it done…..

Related:
How to Have a Successful Town Hall
The week of February 17-26 is the first district work period (“recess”) of the new Congress. Members of Congress (MoCs) will be back home holding public events and meeting with constituents. These meetings are a great opportunity for your group to remind your MoCs that they need to stand up for you—and that means standing up against the Trump agenda.

“I Object!”—Withholding Consent and Filibustering
Democrats may be in the minority, but that doesn’t mean that your Democratic senator is powerless to resist Trump’s agenda. The Senate is a peculiar legislative body, with lots of arcane rules designed to protect the minority from being trampled by an irresponsible majority.

Congressional Cheat Sheet
We want to make sure you’re well armed to combat the Trump agenda where the fight is happening—at the grassroots level. Even though Capitol Hill might seem like a strange, esoteric, and ego-driven little bubble (and it is!), there are easy ways to stay on top of what’s happening in Washington, DC. Here are some resources Capitol Hill staff use all the time to help them keep abreast of what’s going on.

Emergency Call: Stand Against the Muslim and Refugee Ban
To explain how you can resist, the Asian Americans Advancing Justice (AAAJ), American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), Indivisible, International Refugee Assistance Project (IRAP), and National Immigration Law Center (NILC-IJF) hosted a planning call that explains WHAT the Executive Orders are, WHY they’re unconstitutional and illegal, HOW you can push your Senators to restore justice, and answer your questions.

Attention, State Government Watchdogs: You Might Need This

Source: Linda Poon, CityLab, February 9, 2017

A new search engine called Digital Democracy can comb through videos, transcripts, and records of what goes on in America’s statehouses. … Some of this kind of information is recorded, but little is released in a timely manner or can be easily accessed by the public. Blakeslee aims to change that with Digital Democracy, an online tool that archives every state hearing in California—and now, New York—since 2015 through videos, transcripts, and records of who said what. The tool also keeps track of elected officials and their financial ties to lobbyists and big corporations—all searchable by name, issue, bill number, etc. Think of it as Google for state government. … First launched in 2015 in California with cofounder and California Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom, the tool is now being taken across the country to New York via a partnership with NAACP. Digital Democracy now has information on some 15,000 individuals involved in policymaking in those two states. Eventually, Florida and Texas will get their own platforms, expanding Digital Democracy’s reach to roughly a third of all U.S. citizens….

The Foreign Emoluments Clause and the Chief Executive

Source: Andy Grewal, University of Iowa, Legal Studies Research Paper No. 2017-12, February 3, 2017

From the abstract:
The 2016 Presidential election brought widespread attention to a part of the Constitution, the Foreign Emoluments Clause, that had previously enjoyed a peaceful spot in the dustbin of history. That clause generally prohibits U.S. Officers from accepting “emoluments” from foreign governments, absent Congressional consent. Several commentators believe that President Trump will inevitably run into this prohibition, given the global business dealings of the Trump Organization. They read “emolument” as referring to any payment received from a foreign government, such that even a diplomat’s payment of a room reservation fee at the Trump Hotel establishes an impeachable offense.

This Article argues that the commentators have interpreted emoluments far too broadly. Numerous legal authorities show that “emoluments,” as used in the Foreign Emoluments Clause, refer to payments from a foreign government made in exchange for the U.S. Officer’s performance of services (office-related compensation). The term does not refer to any and all payments from a foreign government.

Putting aside definitional issues, vexing questions arise when determining whether an emolument arises in a transaction between a foreign government and a business entity owned or affiliated with a U.S. Officer. The Office of Legal Counsel and Comptroller General have struggled with the issues, but their approaches suffer from conceptual flaws. This Article proposes an alternative three-part business entity test to help analyze the problems.

After tangling with the definitional questions related to emoluments and the complications presented by business entities, this Article examines whether the activities of the Trump Organization establish violations of the Foreign Emoluments Clause. It concludes that market-rate transactions between the Trump Organization and foreign governments do not come within the clause. However, payments to the Trump Organization in excess of market rates may establish potentially unconstitutional gifts, emoluments, or bribes. Payments made to President Trump personally in exchange for services would also raise constitutional problems.

Forum – Trump: A Resister’s Guide

Source: Harper’s Magazine, February 2017

We have a new president who is also a new kind of president. Our previous chief executives — at least those of the post–World War II era — were not in the business of outright bigotry and misogyny. Nor did they make common cause with white supremacists, boast about sexual assault, or threaten to jail their opponents. Nor did they openly deride and undermine the traditions and institutions that it is the president’s duty to uphold. Donald Trump is different. Since he was elected in November, many Americans have struggled to assimilate our changed reality, the radical discontinuity that his victory represents. It has been a long winter, a season of fear, grief, and, perhaps above all, rage — a feeling compounded by its seeming futility. “Impotent hatred is the worst of all emotions,” Goethe said. “One should hate nobody whom one cannot destroy.” As a once-unthinkable Trump presidency gets under way, it is time to recognize that we are not as impotent as we may have felt — that even if we cannot destroy Trump, we can resist his primitive vision to the best of our abilities. There are no guarantees that we will succeed, but, as the writers in this forum all make clear, not to try would be a dereliction. A new kind of president demands a new kind of citizen.

Articles include:
Terms of Engagement
by Tim Barker
Tim Barker is a doctoral student in history at Harvard and an editor-at-large of Dissent.

Letter to Silicon Valley
by Kate Crawford
Kate Crawford is a principal researcher at Microsoft Research, a visiting professor at MIT, and a senior research fellow at NYU.

Libidinal Politics
by Katrina Forrester
Katrina Forrester teaches history at Queen Mary University of London.

Hymn to Harm City
by Lawrence Jackson
Lawrence Jackson’s fourth book, Chester B. Himes: A Biography, will be published this summer.

Terrorist and Alien
by Nimmi Gowrinathan and Valeria Luiselli
Valeria Luiselli is the author of the novel The Story of My Teeth (2015) and the essay collection Sidewalks (2013).
Nimmi Gowrinathan is a professor and the director of the Politics of Sexual Violence Initiative at the City College of New York.

The Dream of the Enemy
by Corey Robin
Corey Robin, a professor at Brooklyn College, is the author of Fear (2006) and The Reactionary Mind (2011).

Lessons From the Last Fight
by Sarah Schulman
Sarah Schulman is the author of eighteen books, most recently Conflict Is Not Abuse (2016).

Democracy How?
by Celina Su
Celina Su is the Marilyn J. Gittell Chair in Urban Studies at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York.

In End Time
by Simone White
Simone White is the author of two volumes of poetry, including Of Being Dispersed (2016).

American Nightmare
by Wesley Yang
Wesley Yang is at work on his first book.

5 Calls debuts what may be the easiest way to call your reps yet

Source: Sarah Perez, TechCrunch, January 25, 2017

A growing number of political activist websites have popped up in recent days to help those opposed to the Trump administration’s policies and agenda to take action. But a new one, 5 Calls, has just launched its simple online tool that makes the more cumbersome process of getting in touch with your representatives a lot easier than before.

The site, created by a team of volunteers, isn’t very fancy, but it’s certainly efficient.
The idea is that if you have 5 minutes to spare, you can place 5 calls – something that’s far more effective in terms of influencing your representatives and getting your voice heard than emailing is said to be.

And, yes, this site has an anti-Trump, left-leaning agenda, but it’s worth noting its creators have open sourced the code. While this was done largely because of the way the team operated – during their free time, from different locations – it places the code in the public domain. And that means others – including those on the opposing side of the political spectrum – could build their own version of 5 Calls, if they were motivated to keep such a site updated. ….

Where to Find Better Candidates? Oregon Unions Are Growing Their Own

Source: Sara Ryan, Labor Notes, January 13, 2017

…..A coalition of public- and private-sector unions created the Oregon Labor Candidate School in 2012. It’s an independent nonprofit, with a board of staffers and officers from unions representing nurses, firefighters, teachers, school bus drivers, electricians and other building trades, public employees, direct care providers, and professors.

Our goal is to build a bench of candidates who will stand up and fight. We want leaders throughout Oregon who will push forward policies like a $15 minimum wage, paid time off for maternity and elder care, paid sick days, strong labor agreements with developers, health care available to everyone, and so much more.

Plus, when union contracts come up for negotiation, it’s essential to have members on local city councils and school boards who can speak up for workers. Having a firefighter on a school board and a teacher on a fire board benefits all public-sector employees……

Trump Archive

Source: Internet Archive, 2017

The Trump Archive collects TV news shows containing debates, speeches, rallies, and other broadcasts related to President-elect Donald Trump. This evolving non-commercial, searchable collection is designed to preserve the historical record for posterity.

The project is a work in progress, with improvements planned for expanding collection and making searching more efficient.

Donald Trump’s sons behind nonprofit selling access to president-elect: New Texas-based group not legally required to disclose its donors

Source: Carrie Levine, Center for Public Integrity, Buying of the President 2016, December 19, 2016

A new Texas nonprofit led by Donald Trump’s grown sons is offering access to the freshly-minted president during inauguration weekend — all in exchange for million-dollar donations to unnamed “conservation” charities, according to interviews and documents reviewed by the Center for Public Integrity.

And the donors’ identities may never be known.

Prospective million-dollar donors to the “Opening Day 2017” event — slated for Jan. 21, the day after inauguration, at Washington, D.C.’s Walter E. Washington Convention Center — receive a “private reception and photo opportunity for 16 guests with President Donald J. Trump,” a “multi-day hunting and/or fishing excursion for 4 guests with Donald Trump, Jr. and/or Eric Trump, and team,” as well as tickets to other events and “autographed guitars by an Opening Day 2017 performer.” ….
Related:
‘Opening Day Foundation’ nonprofit registration