Act of Resistance 7-19-2018

Last night I attended my first ever Democratic Party meeting! I know, exciting, right?!

Okay, so it wasn’t the most fun I’ve ever had, but it was extremely interesting! I learned so much, got involved, and met a few candidates.

So what did I learn? I learned that Republican Jim Stamas ran unopposed for his State Senate seat in his last election, and that this year Joe Weir is opposing him. I don’t know a lot about Joe yet, but I plan to! I could see that he seems like the kind of person you want in politics: intelligent (he was a scientist at Dow), involved (he’s been part of the Midland County Democrats behind the scenes for years), and unassuming and relatable. I don’t think Joe’s in this for power or fame. He truly wants to serve the people.

I also learned a bit about those elected (or appointed) to the school boards of public universities in Michigan. First, there are three schools where the board members (called governors, trustees, and regents at different schools) are elected by the people: University of Michigan, Michigan State University, and Wayne State University. In order for them to achieve this goal, they have to commit to running, campaign for a primary, attend the Michigan Democratic Convention (this year it’s in Lansing at the Breslin Center), collect 550+ signatures from attendees (who must be registered Democrats), and then be voted on by the attending registered Democrats. The two with the most votes (and the appropriate amount of signatures) are placed on the ballot in the general election. Attendees can sign as many petitions as they want, but can only vote for two. It’s no small feat for these people to get involved and commit themselves to running!

As to appointed board members, which is the case for a number of public universities in Michigan, those are appointed by the governor. So you can see why it’s very, very important to have a Democratic governor. They have the opportunity to influence in a lot of ways, not least our public universities.

And I’m sad to say I knew very little about the Michigan Supreme Court, but thanks to Sam Bagenstos who is running for the MSC, I am now a little more educated. I saw on Twitter yesterday that the MSC was hearing a case about gerrymandering in Michigan, trying to put it in the hands of voters to create an independent commission to determine districts in the state. It is lead by Voters Not Politicians. It’s depressing I haven’t heard of this before because I would definitely have gotten involved, but it’s now awaiting a decision.

Sam shed a little more light on that subject for all of us attending the meeting, but also talked about himself (he has an impressive resume including being a civil rights lawyer, working under Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and Eric Holder). He also talked a bit about the what the ballot looks like for Supreme Court candidates and why voting a straight Democratic ticket isn’t enough! Supreme Court candidates are listed under Non-Partisan positions, so even if you vote straight Democrat, you still have to select MSC picks on your own. And since party affiliation isn’t listed on the ballot, you need to do your research ahead of time! This year Sam Bagenstos and Megan Cavanagh are the Democrat-supported candidates for two positions on the Michigan Supreme Court! (And this is a Cavanagh we actually want in a judge’s seat!) So be sure to select Bagenstos and Cavanagh on your ballot.

I also texted Abby the Address-bot for more addresses for Postcards to Voters. I asked for 20 this time, which is a few more than usual, but I’m in the mood to contribute. I’ll be writing postcards for Danny O’Connor who is running for Congress in a special election in Ohio! And I mentioned Postcards to Voters to the head of the Democratic Party meeting I attended and I think she might look into for their candidates.

So that’s all for today, but I’m excited I have more work to do by sharing information on social media and helping to get others prepared to vote. A suggestion at the meeting was to personally ask Democrat friends to be sure to vote in the primary and the general election and that’s also something I will definitely be doing!

Keep Resisting!

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Act of Resistance 5-30-2018

I’ve decided to change the headings to my blog posts to Act Of Resistance instead of Letters to My Representatives. Though most of the time these posts will in fact be letters to my reps, they aren’t the only acts of resistance I participate in, so I decided a heading change was in order.

This week’s post will encompass the last three weeks, as I didn’t post the last two.

On May 16th I wrote Postcards to Voters. This time it was for Jesse Salinas, running for Yolo County Clerk-Recorder/Assessor in California. Please consider visiting their site and getting involved. It’s an easy way to help increase voter participation. Here’s my tweet thread on how it works.

Postcards to voters

Last week I sadly didn’t do anything specific besides sharing information on Twitter and Facebook. It’s not enough, but some weeks that’s all you have to give and we need to allow ourselves a break now and then.

But we also need to understand that even small acts of resistance are needed right now. People tweeting about Roseanne Barr’s comments about Valerie Jarret forced Disney and ABC to cancel her show. Maybe they would have done it anyway, but I doubt it. If everyone had just ignored the racist and disgusting comments Barr made, ABC would have ignored them too. It’s not like they didn’t know who Barr was from the beginning. They hired her to do a reboot of the show even knowing pictures like this were out there:

Barr

This week I wrote to my representatives and the letters will be below. As always, the scripts came from I Called My Reps and you can find more info and scripts on their website. If you are so inclined, I know they are just a couple of people keeping that site up and it’s a lot of work, so visit their Ko-Fi and show them a little monetary support so they can keep this up!

Dear Senator Stabenow,

I ask that you vote against the Ronald Mortensen nomination to the State Department. Mortensen has been nominated to a position he knows very little about – he has little to no knowledge of refugees. Additionally, his demonstrated record of being anti-illegal immigrant, could very well influence how he chooses to tackle refugee related-subjects.

I ask that you condemn Secretary Nielsen’s comments about separating families at the border, during her 05/16 testimony in front of Senate Homeland Security. I also demand that you vehemently oppose the Trump Administration’s decision to expand on the existing policy to separate families at the border. I am also concerned and would like an open investigation into ICE’s practices of abusing young kids and teens in their care. This has been going on for several years, and Congress needs to stop overlooking their practices.

I ask that you condemn the Trump Administration’s decision to pull out of the Iran Nuclear deal based on false pretenses.  According to the IAEA and the Trump Administration’s own intelligence officials, there is no evidence of a nuclear program in Iran since 2009. They are in compliance with the terms of the 2015 deal, and Trump has been unable to clarify what he means by saying Iran is in violation of the “spirit” of the deal. This decision was a dangerous, carelessly thought-out decision by the Trump Administration made on false pretenses. It will absolutely create further chaos in the Middle East, and I expect you to condemn the decision AND any further military action that may occur in the area.

I ask that you demand Scott Pruitt’s resignation. The scandals that keep coming out of the EPA are absolutely unacceptable. Not only is he repeatedly committing ethics violations, he clearly doesn’t spend enough time doing his job, verses defending his job. Of course he’s not very effective at doing his job either.

I demand that you take action on the gun control legislation stalled in the Senate, including Feinstein’s Act 21 changing the purchase age for assault weapons, and Senator Murphy’s S. 2009 /background check expansion act. The continued epidemic of mass shootings is a clear indication that action needs to be taken now! I also ask that you publicly declare that you will not support Concealed Carry Reciprocity as it is rumored that the Senate plans to take up this legislation this summer.

I object strongly to Trump’s aims to target abortion education.

Please support the Special Counsel Independence and Integrity Act to protect Robert Mueller, as introduced by Senators Tillis, Boons, Booker, and Graham. I fear Trump will attempt to end the investigation. The investigation has support from not only Democrats, but also prominent members of the GOP and we need to ensure that Mueller is allowed to do his work.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

Sincerely,

Jennifer Austin

 

Dear Representative Moolenaar,

I ask that you condemn Secretary Nielsen’s comments about separating families at the border, during her 05/16 testimony in front of Senate Homeland Security. I also demand that you vehemently oppose the Trump Administration’s decision to expand on the existing policy to separate families at the border. I am also concerned and would like an open investigation into ICE’s practices of abusing young kids and teens in their care. This has been going on for several years, and Congress needs to stop overlooking their practices.

I ask that you condemn the Trump Administration’s decision to pull out of the Iran Nuclear deal based on false pretenses.  According to the IAEA and the Trump Administration’s own intelligence officials, there is no evidence of a nuclear program in Iran since 2009. They are in compliance with the terms of the 2015 deal, and Trump has been unable to clarify what he means by saying Iran is in violation of the “spirit” of the deal. This decision was a dangerous, carelessly thought-out decision by the Trump Administration made on false pretenses. It will absolutely create further chaos in the Middle East, and I expect you to condemn the decision AND any further military action that may occur in the area.

I ask that you demand Scott Pruitt’s resignation. The scandals that keep coming out of the EPA are absolutely unacceptable. Not only is he repeatedly committing ethics violations, he clearly doesn’t spend enough time doing his job, verses defending his job. Of course he’s not very effective at doing his job either.

I demand that you take action on the gun control legislation stalled in the Senate, including Feinstein’s Act 21 changing the purchase age for assault weapons, and Senator Murphy’s S. 2009 /background check expansion act. The continued epidemic of mass shootings is a clear indication that action needs to be taken now! I also ask that you publicly declare that you will not support Concealed Carry Reciprocity as it is rumored that the Senate plans to take up this legislation this summer.

I object strongly to Trump’s aims to target abortion education.

Please support the Special Counsel Independence and Integrity Act to protect Robert Mueller, as introduced by Senators Tillis, Boons, Booker, and Graham. I fear Trump will attempt to end the investigation. The investigation has support from not only Democrats, but also prominent members of the GOP and we need to ensure that Mueller is allowed to do his work.

I want you to support Senator Markey’s Net Neutrality petition, and to also encourage House leadership to take up and support the petition. 60-80% of Americans do not support the roll back of Net Neutrality regulations, and I am one of those constituents. I expect you to take a stand for the rights of their constituents.

Please support the DACA discharge petition. An overwhelming number of Americans support a permanent solution for DACA recipients, with 9 in 10 Americans polled in January 2018 in favor of legal protections for said recipients. Now is the time to act and I support the discharge petition. I expect you to do the same.

I hope you and the House are working on the much needed Farm Bill, but be assured if it contains anything regarding work requirements for SNAP or increased production on forest lands I will not support it.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

Sincerely,

Jennifer Austin

March for Our Lives, Postcards to Voters, and Letters to My Representatives 4-19-2018

Okay, so it’s been a wee while since I posted. This is the first day I’ve had time to write my reps and you will find a letter below, but I haven’t been completely out of the Resistance loop.

On March 24th I joined over 4000 people in Ann Arbor, and more than 1.2 million in the United States (and more globally!) to demand reform on gun control and gun safety measures. I was part of a group known as Kid Lit Marches for Kids organized nationally by author Jenny Han and regionally by local writers. Me being who I am I made signs for all our participants and handed out the extras to the surrounding crowd. Here are a few pictures from the event:

I also participated in Postcards to Voters a program to allow volunteers to write postcards to registered Democratic voters coming up to an election. It’s a small thing you can do to encourage voter participation even in small elections. Here’s a picture of mine and you can check out my Twitter Thread on how you can get involved!

img_3916.jpg

And now for my letter to my reps. It was essentially the same to all three so I’m only sharing the Letter to Senator Debbie Stabenow:

Dear Senator Stabenow,

I ask that you support the Special Counsel Independence and Integrity Act to protect Robert Mueller, as introduced by Senators Tillis, Coons, Booker and Graham. The NYT’s latest report indicates that Trump considered ending the Russian investigation in the fall, the second time he has made such considerations. That move along with his continued rhetoric suggests Trump might try to end Mueller’s work sooner than later. Prominent members of the GOP keep reiterating they believe in Mueller and want to let him do his work. Please pass the Special Counsel Independence and Integrity Act as soon as possible. I would also like to ask that you reiterate that Rod Rosenstein cannot be fired as well.

I demand that you speak up about the airstrikes on Syria. You need to push the Trump Administration to provide clarification on what’s a “sustained response” to address the situation might look like. I would rather not get into a sustained conflict in the region, and any effort we do engage in needs to be focused on gaining freedom for the Syrian people and humanitarian aid for the millions affected by this crisis.

I would also like for you to push for changes to the presidential war powers. The lack of clarity in the language allows the president the leeway to carry out limited precision strikes and that needs to be changed. Similarly I also want you to bring up the need to debate the Authorization for the Use of Military Force passed in 2001. What scope does the authorization now cover?

I want you to address the fact that our country has only taken in 11 Syrian refugees this year. If we are to seriously address the challenges being faced by Syrians, the refugee restrictions put forth by this administration need to be reversed.

I demand you call for Scott Pruitt’s resignation. The daily scandals that keep coming out of the EPA are absolutely unacceptable. Not only is he repeatedly committing ethics violations, he clearly doesn’t spend enough time doing his job, versus trying to defend his job.

I ask that you vote NO on against Mike Pompeo for Secretary of State if the vote comes to the Senate floor. Mike Pompeo has little to no background in diplomacy, and has been unable to fully answer many of the questions that were asked during his confirmation hearing.

I want you to vote in favor of Senator Markey’s resolution to repeal the FCC’s December decision to unwind Net Neutrality, via the Congressional Review Act. Polling suggests 60-80% of Americans do not support the rollback of the net neutrality, and voting in support of this bipartisan resolution will help ensure this issue isn’t singlehandedly decided by five people.

I support the FCC Inspector General case against Chairman Pai and I ask that you do as well. Chairman Pai’s potential connections with Sinclair Broadcasting need to be explored, particularly given the potential Sinclair-Tribune merge on the table. I also ask you to consider passing anti-trust laws, so Chairman Pai’s actions to help Sinclair in the merger process, cannot be repeated.

I am adamantly opposed to John Bolton’s appointment as National Security Advisor, and demand you do everything in your power to protest this appointment. John Bolton has a track record for advocating for extreme foreign policy views, often to the detriment of the nation. It’s for that reason Senate Foreign Relations determined Bolton was unfit to serve TWICE during the Bush Administration, and why he’s still unfit to serve now. I understand that you have no confirmation power when it comes to Bolton. But I demand you push forward w/ other options, including pushing forward w/ the Markey/Lieu bill limiting POTUS’s ability for first strike.

I expect you to take a stand against the Trump Administration’s latest attempts to ban transgender individuals from serving in the military. The administration’s justification for banning transgender  individuals is based on flawed, discriminatory research. Moreover, many active service duty members have already reiterated: this discriminatory act against potential/serving officers, only damages unit cohesion. It doesn’t improve it. I expect you to take a stand, and let your constituents know you are supportive of any and all who choose to serve.

I ask that you do what you can to defend Andrew McCabe from the administration’s latest attack. Firing him days before he’s scheduled to retire is, as Senator Hirono called it, “sadistic”. He will lose his pension, after a twenty-two year career at the Bureau. I encourage you to call to let McCabe retire and receive his full pension, and continue on with whatever investigations are needed at that point.

I want to know why Trump is meeting with Putin and why Russia made the announcement.

I am against Trump’s steel and aluminum tariffs, and I am demand you take a stand against these measures. According to economists, the tariffs will likely cause trade wars, disrupt the US economy and cause job losses in certain industries. Moreover, history has shown us before, tariffs simply are not effective. Please take whatever steps you can to oppose these measures.

I demand you work with your colleagues, to determine a concrete solution to address Dreamers. Since the Trump administration has announced the end of DACA, more than 19,000 immigrant youth have lost their protections from deportation. 850 more lose it every week. We need action NOW, especially as Leader McConnell wants the immigration debate to end. Now the bipartisan budget bill is out of the way, I demand you take the promises you made in the lead-up to that vote seriously, and figure out a solution for DACA. Please take this seriously. Please support a clean DREAM/SECURE Act for all then people currently in this country who need it, including 200k Slavadorans who will lose their protected status.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

Sincerely,

Jennifer Austin

So that’s it for today. It looks like the site It’s Time to Fight has merged with the I Called My Reps website, so for more information and scripts be sure to head over there! And if you do call or write your reps be sure to use #ICalledMyReps on Twitter to talk about it. We need to see each other resisting to maintain our morale and momentum!