ACLU Freedom Agenda in Quincy

Canvassing with the ACLU in Quincy.

Since the election, I’ve been trying to find ways to resist and fight this current administration. Some of it has been by blogging about it here. Amplifying other voices on Twitter. Contacting my elected representatives. Donating to causes that I believe in.

I have not been to any protests though — even though there have been many. Many people who know me and are aware of my political activism are shocked by this and assume I’m out there. Sometimes it makes me feel guilty.

Like many others, I have a lot on my plate and am aware of how much I can handle at a time. An article called 12 Ways You Can Be an Activist Without Going to a Protest gives some doable options for those of us who because of time and other factors, like being an introvert, choose not to be in huge crowds.

As the article states and I believe, we can resist in different ways. Sometimes smaller and quieter ways. But we can all have a positive impact.

Back in July, I volunteered for the ACLU of Massachusetts by canvassing in Quincy. Another volunteer and I stood outside the library and asked people to sign postcards supporting the ACLU Freedom Agenda.

It was one of the hottest days of the summer and we were melting, so we weren’t out that long, but we received positive and enthusiastic responses. Many people signed the postcards and were thrilled that we were there. One woman even hugged me, thanking me for doing this work!

Of course, there were some who were not fans of the ACLU and were supportive of Trump. It was to be expected. Quincy has a fair number of Republicans. During the campaign, I remember seeing several  Trump signs on lawns and MAGA bumper stickers on cars, usually trucks. They still make me shudder every time I see them.

Organizing with the ACLU in Quincy.

After we finished getting our signed postcards, we met with several other Quincy residents to share information. The postcards will be sent to Massachusetts legislators to let them know the priorities and beliefs of their constituents.

If you’re wondering about the ACLU Freedom Agenda, here’s some information below that ACLU of Massachusetts Volunteer Coordinator Olivia Santoro would like you to know.

Donald Trump said many things during the campaign that raised serious constitutional concerns. Mass deportation, restricting reproductive freedom, persecution of Muslims, weakening the press, etc. We think we have a special responsibility—and opportunity—right here in Massachusetts.

Our federal system permits state constitutions to be more protective of human rights than the federal constitution. So we’ve put together a “Massachusetts Freedom Agenda” that lays out ways that Massachusetts can do this.

Reproductive freedom
The Massachusetts constitution made possible our Moe victory in 1981, protecting state-funded Medicaid coverage for abortion despite laws denying federal funding. We need to ensure that access to contraception in Massachusetts remains consistent and affordable in anticipation of attacks against the Affordable Care Act.

Immigrants’ rights
Several cities and towns have passed Trust Acts (which restrict local cooperation with federal deportation efforts) — Amherst, Boston, Cambridge, Holyoke, Lawrence Northampton, Somerville. We need to defend and expand these protections, and ensure that state and local authorities do not participate in federal immigration enforcement, raids and roundups.

We also need to protect the “dreamers”—the young people who immigrated to this country as minors, and who the bi-partisan federal “DREAM Act” aims to protect—to make sure young people are able to safely and fully participate in American life.

Religious freedom
In a similar way, we need to begin working now to restrict local cooperation with any federal efforts to persecute Muslims or other groups.

Privacy and free speech
Especially in Massachusetts, with its centers for education and our high-tech economy, we need to update laws to keep pace with technology, preserving the First and Fourth Amendments in the digital age.

That means updating search and seizure laws, and set clear limits on collecting and sharing information about First Amendment-protected activities (speech, associations, and religious affiliation). We also need to strengthen the right to dissent and speak out.

If you live on the South Shore and would like to become involved, there will be a meeting to discuss the Freedom Agenda on Saturday, September 16th at 1pm.

The location is Quincy Point Congregational Church, 444 Washington Street in Quincy.

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Another way to become involved is by attending ACLU Lobby Day at the Massachusetts State House on Wednesday, September 27th.

Click here for registration information. If you register in advance, there will be a boxed lunch. A free lunch! Check out the event on Facebook too.

Registration opens at 9:3am. The program starts at 10:30am and continues through the afternoon.

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Can’t attend either of these events, but still want to be involved? You can still support the Freedom Agenda by telling your legislator online. Click here.

Hopefully you can find a way to get involved that works with your schedule and comfort level. All of us are needed at this vital turning point in our country’s history!

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*Update 9/17/2017*

Yesterday, I attended the meeting in Quincy mentioned above. There were around 30 people, all from different parts of the South Shore, including Quincy.

Gavi Wolf, Legislative Director for ACLU of Massachusetts

The key takeaway from the meeting was for us to take action. Gavi Wolf spoke about how just a few people can make a big difference when we speak to our legislators. We voted them in and they want to continue to get our votes.

We formed small groups based on our common state Representatives. I found this discussion quite interesting. He said that because Massachusetts is such a Democrat heavy state, many legislators who would be considered Republicans in other states, run as Democrats here, because they think that is the only way they will get elected.

What I’ve long suspected! Based on the conservative stance and policy of some, they are Democrat in name only.

Because of this disconnect between party and policy, we have many conservative Representatives who are “Democrats” and the focus now is to lobby them and let them know how their constituents feel about certain issues.

Those of us who were at the meeting will be contacting our legislators and hopefully meeting them in person to discuss the Freedom Agenda.

After tweeting about the meeting, I received an email from someone who is interested in getting involved. Please feel free to reach out to me with any questions. Stay tuned!

An Angel On Your Shoulder

A white flower in a vase with a hazy white aura surrounding it, giving an angelic halo effect.

Here’s looking at you Monday! I’m hoping that my guardian angel is working lots of overtime. Hopefully your angel is too.

I’m trying to start the week full of energy and positive vibes. Yoga and meditation were a big help this morning. It’s going to be a doozy on the political front here in the United States.

The Supreme Court ends their session today and may hand down a decision on Trump’s travel ban. Also, the Senate is trying to take away our health care.

Experts in authoritarianism advise to keep a list of things subtly changing around you, so you’ll remember.

Things happen so fast, that it’s been nearly impossible for me to keep up. Never mind make a coherent list. Even with Bill Cosby! Back in the 80s, could we have ever imagined how things would turn out with him?

Anyway, Amy Siskind is up to Week 32 of  her listing, so you can follow along there. Let’s stay strong America and hope that somehow kindness and morality can win.

And to end this post, I have two quotes, which are kind of ironic, yet rather fitting for the strange times that we are living in.

As much as their names are now synonymous with disgrace, maybe we can still take something from their words.

Once one determines that he or she has a mission in life, that’s it’s not going to be accomplished without a great deal of pain, and that the rewards in the end may not outweigh the pain –if you recognize historically that always happens, then when it comes, you survive it.   ~ Richard M. Nixon

Through humor, you can soften some of the worst blows that life delivers. And once you find laughter, no matter how painful your situation might be, you can survive it.   ~ Bill Cosby

11 Years Blogging: Mend

11 years blogging

It’s my 11th year blogging today! Yay! And I’m keeping up with my annual tradition of choosing a new word for the year.

After writing the post about finishing my quilt, I found it — MEND.

I mended my heart. I mended my quilt. And as my mother pointed out to me when I mentioned my choice of a word, “Our country needs mending.” The United States is not quite in tatters, but it’s not united either. We are a nation divided in need of healing.

Merriam-Webster defines mend in several different ways. Here are a few.

To free from faults or defects
To improve in manners or morals
To set right or correct
To put into good shape or working order again
To patch up or repair
To improve or strengthen (as a relationship) by negotiation or conciliation
To restore to health or cure

The picture above doesn’t have much to do with my word, except for it reminds me of the phrase that “you catch more flies with honey than vinegar.”

I took a bunch of photos at Eataly and bought this Mieli Thun honey. It was really good! And who knew about nomadic beekeeping? The baguettes are just pretty to pair with the honey. And the sweetness of honey goes well with bread.

For this country to mend, I think we need a whole lot of loving-kindness and learning to be sweet to one another. Even when we’re strangers. Maybe especially so.

Since I first drafted this post, I realized that today is Trump’s 100th day in office. I was hoping that he’d be gone by now, but at least we have survived!

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If you’d like to take a look at my past blogging anniversary words of the year, see below.

Twilight Zone Trump Era: #2

sunlit flowers1

Back at the end of January, I wrote my first post in this series on the Trump era. I had planned to regularly write about things I notice happening around me, as suggested by a series of posts by Amy Siskind.

Experts in authoritarianism advise to keep a list of things subtly changing around you, so you’ll remember.

She is up to Week 22. I have not been up to the task. I read a lot of tweets, articles, blog posts and watch videos about all that is going on. I saved links to share them, but it got too overwhelming and I didn’t write that next post. Until today.

With each revelation of Trump’s connections with Russia and the resignations of many of his staff, I hoped that finally this house of cards was collapsing and his administration would end. It seems that nothing is enough. Isn’t this treason? Shouldn’t treason be enough?

This past week, tensions with North Korea seemed to be coming to a head with threats of nuclear war. I was surprised to wake up Saturday and Sunday. It’s Monday, a holiday here in MassachusettsPatriot’s Day.

We are closing in on 100 days into this horrifying administration. Since I have a bit of time and we seemed to have survived this new century’s answer to the Cuban Missile Crisis, I decided that I would make note of a few things.

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The Tax March happened this past weekend. People marched all over the country and world demanding that Trump release his income tax returns. He still refuses. Trump tweeted yesterday, Easter Sunday, that people marching were paid protestors and that the crowds were small. Reports and pictures showed very large crowds and of course people were not paid.

Maxine Waters continues to speak out against Trump and discuss impeachment.

The city of Cambridge, Massachusetts passed a resolution asking Congress to look into impeaching Trump.

Trump wants to eliminate dozens of agencies and programs.

Today, the White House is hosting the annual Easter Egg Roll.

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Stay strong my fellow Americans. We seem to be in this for the long haul.

Twilight Zone Trump Era: Week 1

Sunlight white flower petals with purple in the middle, shade in the background represents the twilight.

This is the first in a series of posts where I will list and link to a variety of things that I’ve been noticing. We are now in the Twilight Zone Trump Era. These posts may not be every week, but I’ll do the best I can to keep a good record.

This first list is longer than what I plan for future lists. I want to get a lot in here that we have been living recently and to give a feel for what’s been going on. I may not remember so clearly six months from now. Time feels like it’s moving at warp speed with all that has been happening.

In my Resist + Persist post, I wrote that I have been following Amy Siskind‘s lists. She says, Experts in authoritarianism advise to keep a list of things subtly changing around you, so you’ll remember.” Otherwise we will forget. Her list for the 11th week is here.

Why the flowers? I bought them on Inauguration Day to treat myself. And something needs to be cheerful in these posts!

Also, flowers are given for seminal moments in our lives — births, deaths, graduations, anniversaries, etc. We are at that kind of moment in our nation. In my Breathe & Push post, I quoted part of a speech by Valarie Kaur.

And so the mother in me asks, what if. What if this darkness is not the darkness of the tomb? But the darkness of the womb? What if our America is not dead? But a country that is waiting to be born. What if the story of America is one long labor? … What if this is our nation’s great transition? … What does a midwife tell us to do? Breathe. And then push. Because if we don’t push we will die. If we don’t push our nation will die. Tonight we will breathe. Tomorrow we will labor.

If all that we are going through now is a push into a new and better nation, then it is a death and birth. We all deserve some flowers. So here goes.

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New York Times 1933

~ So many comparisons between Trump and Hitler have been made. This 1933 New York Times front page article discusses the cabinet limiting Hitler’s power.

~ Nazis are in the news all the time. There is debate whether it is right or wrong to punch them in the face.

~ The White House Holocaust Remembrance Day statement did not mention Jews or anti-Semitism. It was likened to Holocaust denial by many. The U.S. Holocaust Museum issued a statement in response, stating in part, “Millions of other innocent civilians were persecuted and murdered by the Nazis, but the elimination of Jews was central to Nazi policy.”

~ A SNL sketch by Alec Baldwin impersonating Trump.

~ There is a Resistance Manual, which states, “Together, we can harness the collective power of the people to resist the impact of a Trump presidency and to continue to make progress in our communities.”

~ A new website called 5 Calls makes it easy to contact our government representatives and voice our opinions.

~ The Indivisible Guide is a guide showing how to resist the Trump agenda. It was created by former congressional staffers and shows the best way to make our representatives listen to our opinions.

~ The Women’s March took place in Washington, DC, and in other cities across the country and the world the day after Trump’s inauguration. The march was to show support for those groups denigrated by Trump and his agenda. The organizers returned to Washington to protest Sessions and will continue to advance their political goals in the future.

~ Trump proposes military parades.

~ Companies are changing the way they announce jobs in response to Trumps tweets and untrue statements about job creation.

~ Is the surge in progressive activism because progressives are the majority?

~ Trump threatens martial law in Chicago.

~ Trump issued an Executive Order for the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) to continue. There are Standing Rock Legal Defense funds to support in order to help the protesters and stop the construction. The pipeline would go through Native American sacred burial grounds and may impact the clean water supply in the area.

~ Protesters interrupted a Minnesota House Committee meeting regarding legislation that would allow police to charge protesters with the costs associated with the demonstration. “Among the protesters was John Thompson, friend of police shooting victim Philando Castile, who passionately argued that reps ‘should leave, because those seats you’re sitting in will be replaced by somebody who represents us.’”

~ A trend across the country to increase penalties on protesters raises free speech concerns.

~ Law professors who spoke against Jeff Sessions’s nomination were subjected to records requests. There is a line out the door of people at Jeff Sessions Senate judiciary commitee vote today.

~ NAACP activists were arrested after protesting Jess Sessions nomination for attorney general. They staged repeated sit-ins outside his office. The NAACP states in part,“Jeff Sessions’ voting record on the civil rights agenda of the NAACP while in the U.S. Senate is indicative of his disregard for many of the laws and programs for which he will be responsible for enforcing. During his tenure in the U.S. Senate, he has voted against key civil rights laws and programs such as the Hate Crimes Prevention Act, the Violence Against Women Act, and gun violence prevention initiatives. Every single year while in the U.S. Senate, Jeff Sessions has received an “F” on the NAACP’s Federal Legislative Civil Rights Report Card[.]”

~ Congress moves to give away government lands.

~ National Park Service banned from tweeting after comparing the much smaller size of Trump’s inauguration crowd to President Obama’s in 2009. Trump cannot let the issue go and called the National Park Service‘s acting director about it.

~ An opinion piece on what really happened at Trump’s inauguration.

~ Rogue or resistance government accounts have popped up on Twitter, so that federal government employees can tweet about climate change, etc. The ACLU writes an article stating that government employees get to have opinions too.

~ Scientists plan a March for Science in Washington in March on April 22nd, which is Earth Day. Due to Trump’s war on science and denial of climate change, many scientists are planning to run for political office.

~ Trump strategist Steve Bannon was added to the National Security Council.

~ Last Friday, Trump signed an Executive Order banning immigrants and refugees from seven majority Muslim countries: Iraq, Iran, Syria, Yemen, Sudan, Libya and Somalia. On Saturday, there was chaos in the airports around the country and world. People were not allowed to enter the country in airports, so they were detained. Others were not allowed to board planes. Protests erupted in response.  The ACLU and other organizations had dozens of lawyers in airports helping those who were detained and their families. The ACLU sued in federal court and Judge Ann Donnelly issued a stay blocking the policy, so that nobody would be deported. The stay was not enforced. People remained detained and members of Congress were not allowed to see detainees and lawyers were sometimes not given access to clients.

White House Page

~ For some period of time, the White House website did not have “The Judicial Branch” page under our Government. It has since been added.

~ Monday night, Attorney General Sally Yates, an Obama holdover said that she and the agency would not enforce the travel ban. Trump fired her.

~ Following Trump’s Executive Order against Muslims traveling to the United States, the ACLU raised more than $24 million dollars over the weekend. Nearly than seven times what they raised online for all of 2015. They have also gained nearly 200,000 new members.

~ The head of the African Union criticized the travel ban saying “‘The very country to which many of our people were taken as slaves during the transatlantic slave trade has now decided to ban refugees from some of our countries,’ said Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma.”

~ Trump announces that he will extend President Obama’s 2014 Executive Order protecting employees from anti-LGBTQ workplace discrimination.

~ Trump wants to take oil from Iraq.

~ Ethics experts and legal scholars sue Trump based on the Emoluments Clause.

~ Some articles were written about a Trump impeachment campaign and the inevitability of impeachment.

~ Austria is the latest European nation to ban full facial veils in public spaces.

~ Drug lord “El Chapo” was extradited from Mexico to the United States.

~ Oprah will join 60 Minutes as a special contributor.

~ After a 146 year run, the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus show will close forever in May. “Declining attendance combined with high operating costs, along with changing public tastes and prolonged battles with animal rights groups all contributed to its demise.”

~ Trump signed an Executive Order to facilitate the repeal of Obamacare, which is the same as the Affordable Care Act (ACA). A listing by Charles Gaba showing state by state how many people would lose their health insurance.

~ An article called Trial Balloon for a Coup? by Yonatan Zunger was trending on Twitter and causing people to think about what Trump has in store. An earlier article called What “Things Going Wrong” Can Look Like was equally as chilling.

~ The video below shows a catchy protest song from Atlanta Airport over the weekend.