This Week in Resistance – “Playing Chicken with Kim” Edition

(http://time.com/4894876/donald-trump-chicken-balloon/)

Best quote: “We sent Dennis Rodman. I can’t believe that didn’t work.”

(Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC)  said of the retired American basketball player who has taken several trips to North Korea.)

For the most accurate analysis of what’s happening between Trump and North Korea’s Kim Jong-un, we once again turn to our nation’s comedians.

Even Fox News had an interesting piece of the puzzle to add – another gratuitous lie from our President exposed.

As of this moment, Trump has the power to launch a missile attack. However, even his own administration doesn’t believe he’ll actually do anything. So, in the meantime, we continue to play “Nuclear Chicken” with Kim.

But what can we do?

Call your legislators! http://www.phoneyourrep.com

(“Really?” Yes, REALLY! This is exactly how the Tea Party, a very small but determined group of people, took over our country. However, THERE ARE MORE OF US, so pick up your phone and remind your legislators how you want them to vote. Every damn day M-F.)

Congresspeople:
Script:
 I urge [Rep____] to support immediate passage of H.R. 669 requiring Congressional approval for any first use of nuclear weapons by the United States.
(already supported by 40 Reps, including Salud Carbajal. Julia Brownley has NOT signed on yet.)

Senators:
Script: I urge [Sen____] to support immediate passage of S. 200 requiring Congressional approval for any first use of nuclear weapons by the United States.
(already supported by Senators Chris Van Hollen, Bernie Sanders, Jeff Merkley, Dianne Feinstein, Al Franken, Ron Wyden, Elizabeth Warren, Sherrod Brown, Patrick Leahy)

Environment – National Monuments Watch

colorado-national-monument_mark-bysewski-1024x682

Last week, we featured three actions and articles about the Trump Administration’s efforts to destroy, eliminate or despoil our western national monuments.

Despite receiving over a million and a half comments to protect the monuments in their current state, maps will be distributed on or before August 24th describing the re-configuration of monuments with commercially valuable assets, such as oil and uranium. This article describes Zinke’s strategies to completely sidestep the will of the public and the far more profitable outdoor adventure/tourism industry in favor of mining interests. Now he’s working on giving those same interests a great deal, a $60-78 million dollar a year discount, at our expense.

The Interior Department admits it is giving away up to $750 million over a decade to private companies making profits on a public resource,” Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) said in a statement on Monday. “Suspending this (valuation) rule was not lawful in the first place, and this repeal violates Interior’s obligation to ensure a fair return to taxpayers.”

But what can we do?

1. Call your legislators! http://www.phoneyourrep.com

Congresspeople/Senator:
Script:
 I’m calling to ask [Rep/Sen____] to fight against this destruction of our national monuments, our heritage, with any legislative means at his/her disposal. The process of public comment was engaged in with fraudulent intent on part of Secretary Zinke, and he’s cheating us again at the marketplace.

2. Go to this! Or look for a similar activity near you.
Please join the Sierra Club, Indivisible-Ventura, Justice 4 All and other local grassroots organizations as we:

 Stand Together——- Save Our Natural Heritage Rally

Time: 6 PM
Where: Corner of Victoria Ave and Telephone Road
               Ventura County Government Center
               Ventura, CA
 
Greetings Activists:
On August 24th U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke will recommend to the President of the United States that many of the most spectacular  national monuments in the western U.S. be greatly reduced in size or eliminated altogether. We cannot allow this to happen.
In a recent meting with Interior Secretary Zinke as we discussed the Administration’s public lands agenda he said ”  I am committed to the President’s policy to make absolutely sure that national monuments and other national public lands are a major part of the President’s energy independence imitative”  He went on to say ” It is time for America to realize that these lands have to support an economic agenda which includes oil and gas drilling, coal, copper and uranium mining. America works best when idle land is developed”.
These are not “idle” lands, these lands are some of the most beautiful ecosystems in the world, these lands are the driver of one of the largest industries in America, the outdoor recreation and outdoor tourism industry, people from around our nation and from around the world visit and spend millions of dollars enjoying our national public lands. 
Sadly this is how this Administration feels about YOUR national parks, national monuments, national conservation areas and national forests.
So please join us on August 18th, bring your handmade sign of protest, we will have speakers and all share together a common force which unites us all, the protection of America’s national monuments and national parks.
for America’s natural heritage,
Jim

Environment – National Monuments Watch – Marine Sanctuaries 

channel islands

Greetings National Monument Team: 
 The senior staff of Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke has told me that the Secretary feels very strongly that the 1908 Antiquities Act does NOT protect waters it was only intended to protect land and therefore using the Antiquities Act to designate marine national monuments is a unlawful use of the Antiquities Act. 
For this reason staff says the Secretary will very likely move to eliminate the 5 marine national monuments which are under review along with a number of land NMs on or before August 24th.
Note: This same view is held by congressman Rob Bishop (R-Utah) chairman of the House Committee on Natural Resources. Congressman Bishop and several other committee members stated this view in a hearing held on federal ocean protection last month. They do not believe in any federal protections and will do everything possible in congress to remove protections on federal ocean waters.
In several conservations with Secretary Zinke, he stated his position that protections of federal ocean waters as marine national monuments and national marine sanctuaries is hindering the economic growth of our nation.

The marine national monument issue is separate from the national marine sanctuaries under review by Dept of Commerce, Public comment on this closes on August 15th, you may comment using the link below:

(currently at 86,336 comments. Deadline Aug. 15, 2017 11:59 EST)
 Zinke had a very big hand in getting Dept of Commerce to review NMSs. While the sanctuaries are not in his department, the agency which issues and promotes offshore drilling (Bureau of Ocean Energy Management) is within the Dept of the Interior. And I can tell you that Zinke can’t wait to open up vast areas of the Atlantic, Arctic and Pacific Oceans to new oil drilling operations. 
for our oceans,
Jim Hines

But what can we do?

1. Write a comment here. Then write another. There’s no upper limit. They do not have to be long or complicated – just say why you feel marine sanctuaries are important. See how many you can write in 10 minutes. Then do it everyday until after the deadline.

2. Call your legislators! http://www.phoneyourrep.com

Script: I calling to ask [Rep/Sen____] to stop Trump and Zinke from allowing commercial drilling in our marine sanctuaries. These areas protect diverse wildlife that will be devastated by the inevitable spills that will occur. Oil spills also destroy local economies.

Environment – Scott Pilgram Pruitt against the world. A really, really, warm world…

Despite the “State of the Climate” report he recently received from NOAA and the American Meteorological  Society which concluded that 2016 was the third consecutive warmest year on record in 137 years of record keeping, with the highest levels of greenhouse gas concentrations, sea level, and sea surface temperature, Scott Pruitt still won’t admit that climate change poses a threat to the US. However, he’s standing amongst a shrinking pool of “skeptics”, as a recent report concluded that Americans are already feeling the effects of climate change. The EPA chief has called for “red team/blue team” exercises to try and challenge what he says is “so-called settled science” on climate change. And to waste taxpayers’ money, apparently.

 

Meanwhile, the USDA is censoring the use of “climate change” and advising staff to use the phrase “weather extremes” instead. A series of emails from February between staff at a USDA unit that oversees farmers’ land conservation shows the administration’s impact on the terminology that can be used by federal employees. Instead of “climate change adaption,” staff were told to use “resilience to weather extremes.” Instead of “reduce greenhouse gases,” use “build soil organic matter, increase nutrient use efficiency.

As long as they can hold out from admitting climate change is real, the Trump administration and their favorite lobbyists can continue to create profitable policies favoring the usage of fossil fuels and especially coal. There’s a lot of these policies stuffed into the 900 page Senate Bill S-1460 “The Energy and Natural Resources Act”, which we’ve had our group repeatedly call our Senators on. The Trump administration is even trying to access a United Nations climate change adaptation fund to pay for the construction of new coal plants around the world, Bloomberg News reports.”

As Al Gore says in his new movie “The Inconvenient Sequel – Truth to Power”  – “The next generation would be justified in looking back at us and asking What were you thinking? Couldn’t you hear what the scientists were saying? Couldn’t you hear what Mother Nation was screaming at you?”

Once the truth is admitted, there will be fear that must be dealt with, fear that we are now part of a great global change that we can only estimate the limits of. Even the most prosaic examples, such as how many New York City residents will die from summer heat in 2080, are terrifying. Rainy-cool Seattle, where only a third of housing has air-conditioning, is predicting record 3-digit highs for this summer. We will have to address shutting down industries that contribute to global warming, industries that have supported families for generations, as has already happened in other countries.

Death and Taxes, not necessarily in that order.

While we are all taking a little breather from the health care fight, we noticed a couple of articles about House Leader Paul Ryan’s current tax reform plan. In them were the seeds of Medicaid destruction, as well as damage to Medicare, far beyond what the AHCA would have wrought. The battle to destroy the safety nets of lower and middle classes has just moved over to the budget arena.

diane-black-1-800x430

Paul Ryan’s caucus unveiled a blueprint for the controlled demolition of the welfare state, which they’re calling “the 2018 federal budget.” The resolution articulates a plan for balancing the budget over 10 years – one that involves slashing $500 billion from Medicare and $1.5 trillion from Medicaid and Obamacare, according to the Associated Press. However, those cuts appear to be largely theoretical – measures that the party has made an abstract commitment to passing in future years. The actual instructions for this year’s budget require a mere $203 billion in cuts to entitlement programs over the coming decade, along with $130 billion-worth of reductions in non-defense discretionary spending. Such cuts would reduce food assistance for the working poor; roll back regulations on Wall Street by stripping $14 billion from enforcement; and slash benefits for the federal workforce.

The House would then use the consequent savings — plus rosy assumptions about economic growth — to finance a buildup in military spending and massive tax breaks for the rich.”

Actually, this isn’t too different from Paul Ryan’s 2012 efforts…

Paul Ryan

(In 2012), the House passed the Wisconsin Republican’s $3.5 trillion budget plan, complete with measures to switch Medicare to a private system, slash more than $700 billion from Medicaid, and cut programs such as food stamps…“ The Ryan budget, adopted by the House of Representatives, would end five decades of Medicare’s guaranteed access to modern medicine and give millionaires a staggering $265,000 apiece in a new tax cut.”

That time, it was just saber-rattling and playing to their base.

But this time, the House, the Senate and the Presidency are all controlled by the GOP.

Time to pay attention.

The GOP is planning a lot of structural damage within this budgeting process, so for those of us who normally go “lalalalala” when we hear about this subject, well, it’s time for us to get past the glazed eyes and learn about this new weapon we need to fight.

(This educational segment almost completely from the awesome Michelle at Small Deeds Done)

Part 1 – Budget Resolutions

“You can go into the details of the budget process here if you’d like to get more versed on the ins and outs.

Here’s the big picture: the budget has to be approved before September 30. If it’s not, the government will shut down on October 1 unless they give themselves an extension by passing a continuing resolution. There are only 12 legislative days between now and September 30, because our Reps have their priorities, and their priority is vacation!

In the House of Representatives, the House Budget Committee drafts a “Budget Resolution” . The Budget Resolution sets out the broad strokes – the “top line” budget. They then delegate the specifics to a bunch of subcommittees that use those top line numbers to draft the legislation that implements the budget.

For the past few years, the House Budget Committee’s Budget Resolution has basically just been a policy document – there was no chance it would become law. But now that the GOP has the House, Senate and White House, the draconian monstrosity of a budget that the Budget Committee passed in mid-July might actually pass. 

Here are the top line numbers that came from the Budget Resolution that passed out of the House Budget Committee in mid-July:

  • $1.5 trillion in cuts for “Medicaid & other programs”
  • $487 billion in cuts to Medicare
    • NOTE: The cuts in Medicaid and other health programs are larger than what was in the House bill to repeal the ACA!
  • $200 billion in cuts for “mandatory safety net programs such as welfare and food stamps”
  • $1.3 trillion in cuts to non-defense discretionary programs – which adjusted for inflation would take those programs to the lowest level they’ve been since the Hoover administration NDD programs include “medical, scientific, and agricultural research; K-12 education and Head Start; job training; national parks, the Weather Service, and environmental protection; mass transit, highways, and airports; low-income housing assistance; veterans’ medical care; law enforcement; foreign assistance; and the administrative costs of entitlements like Social Security, Medicare, and unemployment compensation.”

No matter which way you slice it, these cuts will pull the rug out from under millions of Americans who are already on shaky ground.

But what can we do?
Call your Representative:  http://www.phoneyourrep.com

Script: I’m calling [Rep____] to express my concern with the cuts in the Budget Resolution. Making cuts to Medicare, Medicaid, food stamps and welfare to make way for tax cuts for the wealthy hurts us and the economy.

Part 2 – Continuing Resolutions

We have talked all Paul Ryan’s terrible  Budget Resolution. But with only 12 legislative days between now and the end of the fiscal year, it’s unlikely (basically impossible) for our MOCs to actually pass a budget. What they will do instead is pass a “Continuing Resolution (CR)” – a short-term extension that continues funding at current levels.

Let’s be clear: without an actual budget or a CR, the government will shut down on October 1. Nobody wants that.

The pressure to pass a CR is significant, which makes it more likely that MOCs will add “policy riders to it. Policy riders “ride” along on must-pass legislation – like the budget – and are used to sneak through legislative changes that would be difficult to pass on their own in open congressional debateFor example, they’ve been encouraged by the Heritage Foundation as a means to defund Planned Parenthood.

 
The National Resources Defense Counsel has done an amazing job highlighting the policy riders that have already been added to appropriations bills to further an anti-environmental agenda. Those riders are currently “riding” on appropriations bills – not on the CR – but the ultimate ask is the same: We need to encourage our MOCs to keep this CR clean.

But what can we do?

Call your Representative:  http://www.phoneyourrep.com

 
Script:  I’m calling [Rep____] to express my concern concerned that the budget process is so terribly behind.With that much pressure, I know it’s common for policy riders to be added.  I trust [Rep____] will be guarding against policy riders,that restrict women’s healthcare and right to choose – or furthers an anti-environmental, anti-labor, anti-immigration agenda.
 0053_defense-comparison-full

Part 3 – Debt Ceiling

If we don’t raise the debt ceiling and pay our bills, bad things happen for our economy. Interest rates for borrowing will go way up for the federal government because we aren’t as reliable as we were before. Borrowing money becomes more expensive. That trickles down the pipeline – and ultimately makes everything more expensive.

So, because raising the debt ceiling is simply agreeing to borrow the money to let us pay the bills we’ve already incurred, and the repercussions of not raising it are catastrophic, everyone should be on board with raising the debt ceiling. Right? No.

Back in August 2011, we were in a similar situation because the GOP refused to raise the debt ceiling without drastic spending cuts. Basically, they played chicken with the U.S. economy and were willing to burn the house down so they could further a policy goal.

So, here we go again, encouraging our members of Congress to just be responsible with the economy.

Let’s call, show that we understand what’s going on, we’re watching, and we know that 2018 is right around the corner.

But what can we do?
Call your Representative:  http://www.phoneyourrep.com

Script:  I’m calling [Rep____] to express my concern concerned that the debt ceiling hasn’t been raised yet. According to the Treasury, we’ll need the debt ceiling raised by the end of September or we’ll risk defaulting on our obligations. Please encourage other members not to play chicken with our economy.

Part 4 – Tell us why we’re cutting safety net programs from the budget again? 

Well, it’s safety net cuts for us, but it’s highly desirable tax cuts for the rich and corporations. That’s because our legislators still somehow believe, despite years of evidence and most recently, the financial debacle of  Kansas,  that the extra money given to our most wealthy will trickle down to the rest of us in the form of jobs.

(2 Hrs. a Week) The GOP love to complain about about the US having the highest corporate tax rate in the world at 35 percent. But they fail to mention the fine print. The EFFECTIVE tax rate (what businesses pay after deductions and loopholes are applied) is about 24 percent. And don’t forget that some corporations pay no taxes at all while others funnel profits overseas where Uncle Sam can’t reach them. An estimated $2.4 trillion is currently off-shored by US corporations to avoid taxation.

This is corporate welfare, and the GOP aren’t the only ones at fault.  Democratic Minority Leader Chuck Schumer offered to work with the GOP on a bipartisan tax reform bill under certain conditions. Not included in his list of deal breakers: corporate tax cuts.

For years, Congress has operated based on the assertion that cutting corporate taxes attracts more business and creates jobs. But we’ve been shown over and over that’s not really true.

But what can we do?
Call your Representative:  http://www.phoneyourrep.com

Script: I’m calling [Rep____] to express my concern with the cuts proposed in the GOP budget. Making cuts to Medicare, Medicaid, food stamps and welfare to make way for tax cuts for the wealthy hurts us and the economy.

So, now we get ready to fight again.

Resources

Open Secrets: comprehensive resource for federal campaign contributions, lobbying data and analysis  (opensecrets)

Open Secrets: Analysis of Steve Knight’s contributions  (opensecrets)

Trump’s Australia/Mexico Transcripts (wapo)

How does fracking work? (ed.ted.com)

Reading

Politics

Week 38 – Amy Siskind’s “Slip-sliding into Authorianism” Watch (medium)

America Has a Long and Storied Socialist Tradition. DSA Is Reviving It. (TheNation)

Rich Conservative Welfare Queens (Signals)

How America lost its mind (Atlantic)

How do I contain my rage at the patriarchy? (the nation)

Why Donald Trump needs muslim women (the nation)

The Deep South and the Rest of Us (laprogressive)

What do scientists think about the biological claims make by that Google employee? (www.quora)

Why women don’t run for office (politico)

Review of Naomi Klein’s “No is Not Enough” (laprogressive)

People in rich countries are dying of loneliness (quartz)

Why an American third party is not a good idea (part 1) (part 2)(chicago now)

Sorry, I don’t care how you felt on election night. Not anymore. (wapo)

The GOP’s Texas Miracle (the hill)

The politics of white resentment (nytimes)

Immigration

The danger from low-skilled immigrants: Not having them (NYTimes)

An American citizen wrongly detained by immigration officers for 3 years won’t be compensated (wapo)

Christianity in America

Christians are upset about the wrong things (patheos)

Christians are more than twice as likely to blame a person’s poverty on lack of effort (wapo)

Recommended by Planned Parenthood

Of course Abortion should be a litmus test for Democrats. (NYTimes)

This is how long it will take to achieve equal pay for black women in every state (bustle)

How 10 million PP supporters helped save health care (shareblue)

Birth control in the Trump Era (newyorker)

If Americans love moms, why do we let them die? (nytimes)

(Thanks to Michelle at Small Deed’s Done, 2 Hrs. a Week, Jen Hofmann, Rogan’s List, fellow resistance people and the vast internet of knowledge.)

2 thoughts on “This Week in Resistance – “Playing Chicken with Kim” Edition

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