“These are the times that try men’s souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands by it now deserves the love and thanks of man and woman. Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph. What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly: it is dearness only that gives every thing its value. Heaven knows how to put a proper price upon its goods; and it would be strange indeed if so celestial an article as FREEDOM should not be highly rated.”–Thomas Paine, The Crisis
This week I wanted to talk about tax reform.
JUST KIDDING! This edition of 5 Minute Activism is all Russia, all the time. But first, bask in all the impact and forward momentum our resistance continues to have.
How Our Voices Made a Difference This Week
- After their hasty, partisan votes to pass Donald’s RepubliCare health care plan that will leave millions without coverage, America made its disgust with the GOP clear. Idaho rep Raul Labrador (R) was roundly booed at a town hall by constituents after ludicrously declaring “Nobody dies because they don’t have access to health care.” Iowa rep Rod Blum (R) returned home during the House recess to face tough questions from local media–which he literally fled from mid-interview, on camera–and then fled from his constituents. Rep. Dave Brat of Virginia (R) faced an angry crowd of 700 constituents as he attempted to justify his vote for the GOP’s RepubliCare. Rep Tom MacArthur (R–NJ) faced an angry group of constituents after proposing the amendment that brought the failed health care bill back to life. The GOP is seeing more and more that the resistance isn’t going away–and in fact is only getting stronger.
- In an increasingly rare victory for climate change regulation, the Senate thinly defeated a proposal to revoke Obama admin rules limiting harmful methane emissions from oil and gas production on federal lands.
- Sally Yates’s testimony created some land mines for Donald–like why he waited 18 days after she warned the White House that its national security director was compromised and vulnerable to blackmail. Yates magnificently ate for lunch their weak defenses–notably from Texan senators Ted Cruz and John Cornyn–at her Senate hearing.
- A former George W. Bush White House ethics adviser has denounced a pay-for-play visa program (offering visas to foreign investors to raise $150 million for a Kushner & Co. luxury high-rise apartment building in New Jersey) hawked by family members of Donald’s son-in-law Jared Kushner, using his close connection to the president, as “corruption, pure and simple.” Lawmakers are calling it a major conflict of interest and breach of ethics, which resulted in the Kushner family dropping out of another such upcoming huckstering.
- John Oliver broke the FCC–again. In 2014 he spurred 4 million comments and crashed the FCC Web site the last time there was an attack on net neutrality–when he asked viewers of his show to leave comments there again now that the FCC is reconsidering net neutrality rules passed in 2015, which require Internet service providers to treat all legal content equally. Comments once again soared and the site went down–though the FCC is blaming an external attack on their servers rather than the more likely explanation that America is swamping them with resistance.
- The ranking member of the Senate Finance Committee has put a hold on Donald’s nomination for Under Secretary of the Treasury for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence until the Treasury Department provides “any information that relates to financial connections between Russia and President Trump and his associates” to the Senate Intelligence Committee and Senate Finance Committee.
- A civilized, cultured country smacked down the extremist, racist, xenophobic isolationist populist candidate trying to co-opt its politics. Don’t you wish it had been us? But vive la France–Marine Le Pen’s populist far-right nationalist National Front party isn’t dead, but it took a serious blow when France voted 66-33% against her hate-fueled ideology and voted in Emmanuel Macron.
- Donald’s already tanking approval ratings are at their lowest point yet–a stunningly low 35%. Here’s a fun article with a full breakdown, including enjoyably abysmal rankings among Americans for his honesty, levelheadedness, treatment of the media, and other fun facts.
So Comey got fired.
On the thinnest of pretexts, on the heels of the FBI director seeking more funding to expand the investigation into ties between Donald and his campaign and Russia, in a hastily scrawled recommendation by the deputy attorney general–who, we now learn, actually was merely the scapegoat for Donald’s personal agenda and threatened to quit over it–and on advice from the same attorney general who had to recuse himself from the Senate version of the Russia investigation the FBI is conducting–Donald fired James Comey, the man leading the investigation into possible criminal collusion between our greatest adversary and…Donald Trump and his campaign. And then the next day he met behind closed doors with Russian officials, including the very man at the center of many allegations, Sergei Kislyak–a meeting at which the American press was barred, but the Russian press was allowed.
If that all sounds convoluted and fairly dirty, that’s because it is.
Now, we’re told by more than 30 sources within the administration, an unhinged Donald rampages through the White House, furious that people just won’t let go of those pesky ties to Russia.
Any American who does not see red flags and a smoke screen in these actions is toeing a party line ahead of and above the good of the country. Anyone still blocking or opposing at least the thorough investigation into mounting evidence of such collusion, especially in the face of what looks a lot like a desperate cover-up, cannot call himself a patriot.
Remember me saying, week after week, that Russia is the lynchpin that can bring Donald down? He knows this, and is trying to bury the Russian investigation, with the help of irredeemable toadies like Mitch McConnell, who is swearing to block any independent investigation despite increasingly loud and numerous calls from lawmakers on both sides of the aisle. In a surreal development, even White House flunky Jason Chaffetz, who heads the House Intelligence Committee’s laughably ineffectual House investigation into the Russia allegations, is now calling for the DOJ inspector general to look into Comey’s firing.
Be assured Donald will attempt to appoint a flunky to head the FBI who will stifle the investigation; the loss of a Senate filibuster means that even if every Democrat opposed that nomination, he could push it through if GOP senators continue to toe the line as they seem to and be complicit in helping Donald avoid, hide, and cover up the mounting evidence of his campaign’s collusion with our greatest adversary.
Now, before you despair, here’s all the good news about this:
- It’s sent people on both sides of the aisle into an uproar, and shined an even brighter spotlight on the fact that the sitting president, under criminal investigation, is trying to shut down investigations into his actions–which raises suspicions and outrage among even Republicans.
- The Senate Intelligence committee, inadequate as it is, has officially issued its first subpoena in its Russian investigation–for documents from Michael Flynn he refused to turn over.
- Congress now faces a very public choice: Demand a real, deep investigation into these alarming allegations, or continue to help Donald hide, lie, and deflect and risk complicity as the truth is revealed. Already many of the GOP are jumping ship, demanding further investigation.
- Hundreds of protesters gathered outside the White House after Comey was fired to demand a special investigation untainted by the conflict of interest and potential cover-up in Donald appointing his own investigator.
But before you relax, overall Republicans continue to defend and deflect–we cannot hope that morality and integrity will bring the truth to light: WE MUST SPEAK UP AND ACT.
Now more than ever, we must have an independent, nonpartisan special investigation committee, and a special prosecutor–as in Watergate, as after 9/11. Otherwise this smells like the biggest cover-up of the century.
- Call the Senate Judiciary Committee (202) 224-5225 and leave a message demanding an independent prosecutor be appointed.
- CALL THE DEPT OF JUSTICE at 202-353-1555 to demand that Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein appoint a special prosecutor to oversee the ongoing investigation of Russian meddling in the 2016 election. In the wake of the firing of James Comey there is no other way we can ever be confident in the results of this investigation.
- Call your MoCs Here’s an excellent list of how each has responded so far to Comey’s firing.
- Call Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein: 202-514-2000. He has the authority to appoint a special independent counsel–ask that he do so to negate the impression of a White House cover-up.
- Call Mitch McConnell and let him know that his continued blocking of an independent investigation into these serious allegations makes him complicit in the cover-up. His DC office is (202) 224-2541–bonus points if you call his other offices too (each gets a separate tally):
Donald Trump’s firing of the head of the investigation against him and his campaign is a clear and very disturbing abuse of power and conflict of interest. I am asking that you speak up against it and demand a thorough investigation that can be obtained, at this point, only through an independent investigation committee and a special prosecutor. Your silence on this issue makes you complicit in the cover-up. Will you protect our nation and her citizens and speak out for our democracy?
Or as this excellent article in The Atlantic puts it:
Will you allow a president of your party to attack the integrity of the FBI? You impeached Bill Clinton for lying about sex. Will you now condone and protect a Republican administration lying about espionage?
@trumphop is an enjoyable new twitter account that retweets Donald’s old tweets on the same day (in past years) that he tweeted them–to often hilarious effect, like this one from May of 2014: “The global warming we should be worried about is the global warming caused by NUCLEAR WEAPONS in the hands of crazy or incompetent leaders!” Indeed.
Ballotpedia is a welter of info on lawmakers–how long they’ve been in office, who their donors are, how they have voted, etc.
The Town Hall Project lets you enter your zip code and find any town halls scheduled by your MoCs. (Don’t hold your breath, sadly–most are working hard to avoid constituents lately, unless they are paying supporters.)
If yours is one of the MIA congresspeople who won’t meet with constituents, there’s a rising tide of lawmakers who will–going outside their own districts to adopt these “orphan districts” and hear constituent concerns. Want to find one for your poor orphaned district? Indivisible has a wonderful new toolkit so you can.
Finally, I want to encourage you in this trying, worrisome, difficult time to read history. History puts these events that seem so extraordinary (and scary) into perspective–it truly does repeat itself. We have triumphed over evil and ignorance before, and we will do it again. I am reading Patriots: The Men Who Started the American Revolution. Read All the President’s Men. Read Alexander Hamilton. Read about the McCarthyism era. About World War II. About the Cold War. The French Revolution. Read biographies of presidents and statesmen. Read And There Was Light: The Extraordinary Memoir of a Blind Hero of the French Resistance in World War II. Whatever period of difficulty and transition and strife interests you, it will put these events into perspective, and remind you that this, too, shall pass–but that good only wins when people stand up and defend it.
Stand up, warriors. Keep the faith, be vocal and visible, and we will win.