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Thursday, February 9, 2017


I do not wish to reevaluate the Obama presidency, nor is it necessary for me to repeat here a selection of the hideous things Trump and his minions are trying to ram down our throats.  My attention is focused on evidence of popular opposition and information about what each of us can do to strengthen that opposition and keep it alive, at least until the mid-term elections.  That is the purpose of my Friday Lists, the third of which I shall assemble tomorrow, despite being here in Paris.

I. M. Flaud yesterday posted a fascinating report by a Mennonite Pastor of a visit to the office of Senator Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania.  Here is the report:

Just got back from a visit to Senator Pat Toomey's Johnstown office with 15 other Borough of State College & Penn State area people to talk about the immigration ban.
Here are my takeaways;
1. Everyone we spoke with was rattled. They have never experienced this much constant feedback. The phones haven't stopped since the Inauguration and they admitted they can't check voicemail because there is no pause to do so.
2. Letters are the only thing getting through at this point [Note: I've heard that postcards are better because they can impound letters for five weeks to check for contaminants]. Regional offices are a much better mail destination because the compile, sort, and send everything. DC mail is so backed up right now it takes twice as long to send things there.
3. Toomey's staff seem frustrated with Trump. They said his barrage of Executive Orders are not how government is supposed to work, and was what they hated during moments of the Obama era. One of them said, "we have a democratic system and process. Trump needs to stop behaving like a Monarch."
4. Our representatives are listening because people are raising their voices. This feels like no other political moment in recent time for them.
5. Toomey's staffers are far more empathetic than I assumed. Also far more technology illiterate (one asked me how to use twitter, and how we already knew about Toomey's published statement). They resonate that the immigration ban feels immoral and unAmerican.
6. Regional offices are not designed to handle this volume of unrest.
7. Personal stories matter. Tell the stories of people being impacted by arbitrary religious and ethnic legislation. Staffers want to know.
8. Don't stop. Do whatever small part you can do to keep raising your voice to your representatives. Not just this issue, but every way marginalized people are being (or will be) exploited under this President."

This is very good news, and judging from my inability to get through to the offices of Senators Burr and Tillis, I imagine it reflects the situation nation-wide.  Keep in mind that the people flooding and jamming the phones are almost certainly a tiny fraction of the constituency.  This battering on the doors of Senators and Representatives is clearly a cost and energy efficient way to have an effect.  We must somehow find the energy and commitment to keep it up for months, and then for years.  It is one of our best hopes of changing the direction of American politics.  Subtleties of argument and nuances of analysis are mostly irrelevant here.  Over time, the relentless barrage will have an effect, because it is like nothing people in politics have ever seen.

The silencing of Elizabeth Warren by the Senate Republicans was a gift, as was the refusal of House Republicans to support a Democratic-sponsored resolution noting that the Nazis targeted Jews in the Holocaust.  Every little bit of stupidity helps.

And now, a plea to my readers:  Please take a moment to post a comment mentioning some of the things you have been doing in the struggle.  These testimonials encourage others, stiffen their spines, reassure them that they are not alone.  Keep it up!


Tom Cathcart said...

Friday report. [I assume the reason more of us are not reporting is that our efforts seem so meager. Mine too, but let's weigh in if for no other reason than to encourage each other, as Bob says.] So:
1) Spoke up at the annual meeting of our little, small-town, conservative Lutheran church in favor of studying the refugee issue. The vote was 14-13 in favor, so I'm not expecting great things to come of it, but . . . .
2) As a result of another related action, a total stranger reached out to me on-line and asked me to have coffee with him and his wife. They were delightful, both in their late 80's, with a daughter, whom I also met who's a UU minister who had spent some time at Standing Rock and gave me a list of like-minded groups in the Poughkeepsie area. 3) At the urging of this Fred, called our town supervisor and told his voicemail how I feel about protecting the undocumented people living in our little town. 4) Gave some money to DSCC and Planned Parenthood. Okay, not exactly 1848 in Paris, but I'm heartened by I. M. Flaud's report that the sheer number of people involved is making them nervous.

DML said...

1. Went to my county's initial Our Revolution meeting. Signed up for a few committees related to passing state-level progressive laws.
2. Going to a letter writing party tonight.

Also - no reason to be sheepish about what you're doing, or to deride any of it as meager. We all have lives, this is a long slog, and we need to pace ourselves. A little bit every week is pretty good.

Christopher M. said...

Thanks for this post Professor, it is encouraging!

This past week, I did these things:

1. Emailed LL Bean, Amazon, LL Bean, and DSW to say I would not buy their products until they rescind there Trump endorsements and drop Ivanka Trump products. (I got this idea from

2. Called and left a message for the Senate Committee on Homeland Security asking them to do everything in their power to remove Steve Bannon from the National Security Council. (I got this idea from

That's it so far. The Women's March organizers are encouraging people to meet with friends and neighbors this week and talk about further actions. I may go to one near me. is the site.

Kate said...

Thanks for the great suggestions. I haven't posted my actions on the previous Fridays, so I'll stretch a point and include some older items. Here goes:
This week:
1) Mailed my Senators to thank them for their votes against DeVos.

1) Gathered and turned in signatures to help get a recall election for our city councilor (who has been indicted for corruption). Keeping fingers crossed on this -- we've turned in enough signatures to meet the requirement plus a good cushion, but we still have to satisfy the Board of Canvasser's review of all the signatures, survive all the other delaying measures (he has already sued the organizers personally and filed every court appeal he could), and win an election (if we get that far).
2) Signed an online petition opposing the Muslim ban. Not sure if these make any difference, but it's encouraging to see the large numbers of signatures.
3) Had lunch with a new colleague who happens to be Muslim. Would have done this anyway, so maybe it doesn't count, but it seems more than usually important now.

Great to see all the different ideas here. I'm aiming to have "mailed LL Bean and Amazon" on my list next week!


Critton Childers said...

I mentioned a couple of days ago that I emailed my NC senators emploring them to vote against DeVos and return her donations. I guess I don't carry a lot of weight with these senators.

Not exactly on the theme of this post, but I just read this article and wanted to immediately share it with this group. I know it will be of interest. It includes a discussion of Rorty's prediction of a "strongman" from the right to lead the country, and much more.

Jim said...

Speaking of Sen. Toomey, I have included a link to a local Pennsylvania paper reporting on efforts to have the senator removed from office. Although this effort may be somewhat quixotic, the article does point out the difficulty Toomey's office is having in their attempts to respond to "the flood of calls, emails and other communication that are coming in."

-- Jim

s. wallerstein said...

Completely off topic, but here's a fascinating discussion of the Russian Revolution (100 years old) with Professor Steven Smith (Oxford) interviewed by Tariq Ali. Then again, maybe all revolutions have some things in common.

howie b said...

Did little but my work as a public servant at the library in Brooklyn and emailed Senator Warren with my chart of the corporate structure of America under Trump: ie Trump is Chairman, Bannon CEO, the cabinet incompetent COOs, the Congress shareholders, the government the experts who know how to do their jobs better than their so called bosses, and the American people the consumers who know they are being cheated but can't fire the Donald for four more years.
Plan on joining the ACLU as have several readers of this blog

Unknown said...

Done nothing active. I live in DC, so I have no senators or a representative to call. Even if we in the District did not live with “taxation without representation,” there probably would be little to gain by contacting them. DC is solidly Democratic. Hillary won here with 90% of the vote to Trump’s 4%.

My wife and daughter were planning on doing the Women’s March, and I decided to join them. But our ages intervened. My wife is trying one thing after another to avoid knee replacement surgery, and she decided she just couldn’t do it. So I was planning on going with our daughter when the two of them pointed out to me that my back wouldn’t hold up, even to hanging around on the edges. I wouldn’t be able to stay on my feet that long.

So we watched the March on TV while reading periodic text messages and pictures from our daughter.

I’ve updated my credit card info for monthly contributions to OurRevolution and the DNC. And I, for the most part, preach to the choir of family and friends on Facebook and email groups. One apparent minor triumph: The spouse of a nephew (niece in-law?) was a Trump supporter, so much so that I blocked her Facebook posts. I got sick of seeing the stuff. But apparently she continues to read my postings. When I posted an article about the Women’s March reaching Antarctica, she “liked” on Facebook. Maybe she’s beginning to rue her choice.

Christopher M. said...

David: Don't forget that we DC residents can contact our mayor and councilmembers (we have four at-large and one per ward). I just saw this call for calls:

David said...

I will post my list tomorrow. In the meantime, I offer this statement from Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson:

"Just moments ago, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the temporary restraining order blocking Donald Trump’s executive order on immigration and refugees. In a unanimous decision, the court made clear that everyone is accountable to the Constitution and the rule of law – even the President of the United States. We spoke truth to power – and we won. The next move belongs to the Trump administration."

Tom Cathcart said...

Update: Just received a copy of a VERY strongly worded letter from Red Hook ministers to our congressional delegation, protesting the administration's treatment of refugees. WAY BEYOND my wildest expectations when I introduced the subject at the Red Hook Council of Churches.

Anonymous said...

I live in Alabama and, to my great surprise, there is lots to do locally. This week I

(1) learned about and joined a grassroots progressive lobbying organization, called Alabama Arise Citizens' Policy Project, that nudges the Alabama legislature to the left (or, rather, away from the extreme right),

(2) joined my county chapter of the Green Party of Alabama, and

(3) attended my local 'huddle,' organized under the auspices of the Women's March (

C Rossi said...

This week:

1.Wrote (email) to Senator Toomey (PA) complaining about his support of DeVos for Secretary of Education and the odious Sen Sessions for Attorney General.
2. Wrote to Senator Casey thanking him for his opposition to De Vos and Session.
3. Wrote to Congressman Meehan (R-PA 7) complaining about his support of repeal of ACA and support of presidential nominees.
4. Wrote to Senator Casey about his opposition to Obama admin allowing UN opposition to Israel's continued expansion of settlements in West Bank and to Israel's bombing of Gaza.
5. Protested in Philadelphia offices of Senator Toomey about nomination of Supreme Court nominee Gorsuch.
6. Contributed to Philadelphia Women's March on behalf of Philadelphia Area Veterans for Peace.
7. Posted in Philadelphia Veterans for Peace Facebook page the great speech by Shakespeare (?) about the case for strangers (immigrants) from the play Sir Thomas More delivered by the great English actor Ian McKellan (we had more than 200 people access the speech on the Website ( A beautiful speech about "mountainish inhumanity) beautifully given by Ian Mckellen

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