Monday Updates: Week of January 16th

News

The Trump Cabinet nominee’s Senate Hearings have begun. A number of them were rescheduled for later, but some have begun, including Ben Carson for Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, Rex Tillerson for Secretary of State,  andJeff Sessions for Attorney General.

Donald Trump held his first press conference this week. It was… challenging… to watch. If you want the highlights, but don’t have the ability to actually read through, or watch the real press conference, you can get some of the highlights from this months SNL cold opening.

(Trump, of course, found it important to tweet about this and how horrible SNL is).

There is a lot to pick through in this news conference, but one of the particularly worrisome ones is his refusal to take a question from CNN. The history of this is that CNN (along with Buzzfeed) released information to claims that there were document alleging that Russia held compromising financial and personal information about the president-elect. As Trump often takes to Twitter when he has been slighted (or perhaps when he feels threatened), such as in response to Meryl Streep’s Golden Globes speech. When a news source says something he dislikes, he begins to call them “fake news.” It is difficult to not see this as troubling – it is an early step in the limiting of free press.

Trump has also been continuing his pattern of breaking traditions, while it is generally the case that incoming presidents will leave certain key individuals in their positions until a proper replacement can take charge, Trump has ordered that Major General Errol R. Schwartz, who is the commanding officer of the Washington, D.C. National Guard, resign his post in the middle of the Inauguration ceremony.

And a final piece of news, the Senate is taking steps towards their promise of dismantling the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare), despite having nothing to replace it with.  There is a rising number of republican voices against the repeal without something to replace it, but it may not be enough to make the difference.

Good News

There are a number of counter-inauguration events in the works, including a Love-A-Thon is occurring, streaming live on Facebook starting at 12:30 pm (ET) on January 20th, Inauguration Day. A number of celebrities will be participating, and money raised will be going to the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California, Planned Parenthood, and Earthjustice. In addition to protests and counter-performances, a number of individuals are boycotting the inaugural ceremony in protest, including over two dozen members of Congress.

On Saturday the 21st there will be a large Women’s March in D.C., as well as 370 “Sister Marches” around the world. It’s entertaining to note that there have only been 200 bus-parking applications for the Inauguration, but 1200 for the Women’s March! Though not without its challenges, the Women’s Marches have the potential to be powerful, meaningful events and I have personally seen a lot of education and learning happening in some of the groups surrounding them.

Action Items

There are so many things that need to be done – there is no way any one of us can do them all, so find the ones that most call to you, that you hold most important, and take action on those.

Figure out your Inauguration Day plan. Self-care is highly recommended. Even though the TV ratings won’t directly translate, a lot of people are going to boycott watching it in any form, some by being vocal about it, some by attending or watching counter-shows.  Some will be going offline entirely and taking the day outside or with friends.  Figure out what is going to work for you, that day and through the weekend.

If it is possible for you, look at attending one of the Women’s Marches on the 21st. Stand in solidarity with others who are fighting the same fight. Take this time to also learn more about the reason and purpose behind the march, and to start learning (if you haven’t already) about some of the issues that are a part of the reality of activism in this day and age. Look into what “Privelege” means, and what “Intersectional Feminism” is.

This is Martin Luther King Jr Day (observed). Take time today to do something to celebrate – participate in a service project, write a letter-to-the-editor for your local paper on one of the issues that matters to you, read some of MLK’s writings, and take action.

Call your representatives and urge them to act to fully restore the Voting Rights Act.

Continue to call the appropriate senators to oppose the innapropriate caibnet nominations, such as contacting members of the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions committee about Betsy DeVos lack of qualifications to be Secretary of Education.

Continue to press the Oversight Committee about the need for Trump to truly divest of his conflicts of interest. Rep. Chaffetz’s office number is 202-225-7751.

Contact the Republican Senators who have broken from the GOP in terms of a fast repeal of the ACA. Share with them your appreciation: Senator Bob Corker (202)224-3344; Senator Lisa Murkowski (202)224-6665; Senator Rob Portman (202)224-3353; Senator Susan Collins (202)224-2523; Senator Bill Cassidy (202)224-5824.

 

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