NEW YORK STATE
JTC is celebrating with family today. We hope you are too. But in keeping with the tradition, we give you this substitute.
How to Protest the Fourth of July
By Holly Jackson
How do you celebrate Independence Day? A cookout? Maybe take the kids to a parade?
William Lloyd Garrison, the 19th-century abolitionist, had a different idea for how to observe the holiday. Every flag should be either taken down or flown at half-staff, he wrote in his newspaper, The Liberator, and “all signs of exultation, parade and boasting should be studiously suppressed.” The usual rounds of celebratory music, marching and fireworks must be abandoned until “the millions of our oppressed countrymen are emancipated.” In the meantime, the Fourth of July “should be made THE DAY OF DAYS for the overthrow of slavery.”
In our time, July 4 has become detached from the politics of protest. But the history of the United States suggests that this need not — indeed, ought not — be the case.
Garrison borrowed the July 4 protest tradition from a group of black activists in Albany. When slavery was legally abolished in New York on July 4, 1827, they resolved not to celebrate. Instead, they mourned all those who remained in bondage and came out the following day for public reflection on the nation that allowed it. This became a tradition that continued until the Civil War.
The most famous abolitionist July 4 protest took place in 1854, when Garrison mounted a platform adorned with an upside-down, black-bordered American flag and burned a copy of the Constitution. From the same stage that day, Henry David Thoreau declared that the moral failure of the United States affected even his ability to enjoy the outdoors, noting that “the remembrance of my country spoils my walk.”
For the better part of the 19th century, many groups in addition to abolitionists, including Native Americans, utopian socialists, women’s suffragists and industrial workers, chose to use the Fourth of July as an occasion for social-justice agitation.
The tradition of July 4 protest faded in the 20th century, but it re-emerged in moments of political urgency. Peace activists during the Vietnam War, for example, seized the day for fasts and demonstrations. In 1970, a committee of African-American churchmen urged the black community across the country not to participate in any festivities on July 4. Their “Black Declaration of Independence” listed 15 grievances, including “being lynched, burned, tortured, harried, harassed and imprisoned without Just Cause” and “being gunned down in the streets by Policemen and Troops who are protected from punishment.”
In the weeks leading up to July 4, 1981, a group of military veterans, in a spirit of outraged patriotism, staged a hunger strike to demand an independent review of Veterans Administration hospitals, further study of the effects of Agent Orange and greater support for veterans’ mental health. In 1986, when the Supreme Court upheld laws that criminalized sodomy between consenting adults in private, gay activists held a rally in Greenwich Village in New York, promising to “disrupt traffic, snarl subways and show our rage” during the city’s July 4 celebrations.
The tradition of July 4 protest has been largely dormant for a generation now — although the rallies and “die-ins” staged during the July 4 Senate recess last year, protesting efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act, hinted at a revival. These days, many Americans seem to disapprove of protests in general, and for them, demonstrations on the Fourth of July might seem particularly offensive, even worse than taking a knee during the national anthem.
But this attitude fundamentally misunderstands the nature of the holiday. July 4 commemorates a protest so incendiary that its participants, the signers of the Declaration of Independence, risked execution as traitors to the crown. These dissidents came together to affirm their commitment to a political community based on equality, at least in theory. For a century and a half, social-justice activists honored this history by continuing it, trying to hold the nation to its own standards on the anniversary of the day they were declared.
This July 4, on the heels of nationwide protests that mobilized hundreds of thousands of people in opposition to immigration policy, we ought to ask again, what does it mean to celebrate America now?
If Trump fires Rod Rosenstein or Mueller we will rally with the rest of the nation!
WHERE / WHEN
Where: Northwest corner of Market Street and Route 9, Rhinebeck, NY
When Rally will begin:
– If actions are triggered BEFORE 2 p.m. local time event will begin @ 5 p.m. local time.
– If actions are triggered AFTER 2 p.m. local time event will begin @ noon local time the following day.
THEN WHAT? Good question.
These events are only the first step. Our goal with these actions is to create an opportunity for anyone outraged by Trump’s abuse of power to engage immediately in voicing their concern. Together, we will communicate unmistakably that this is not okay and that this act to undermine democracy is not going to be allowed to become a new normal.
But that’s only the first step, and it’s far from the last one.
Congress is the only body with the constitutional power and responsibility to hold a president politically accountable for significant violations of the public trust like this. “We, the People” are their backstop and source of legitimate power. What people do next to force Congress to act is up to them!
Indeed, everyone at an event should also call our members of Congress to demand action. Everyone is encouraged to communicate that demand directly at congressional offices.
DC Office: (202) 225-5614
Kingston Office: (845) 514-2322
Kirsten Gillibrand: (202) 224-4451
Charles Schumer: (202) 224-6542
1. Demand members of Congress protect the special counsel’s office, including preserving its files and staff and ensuring it receives the full cooperation of all federal government law enforcement assets.
2. Demand the creation of a modern-day version of the Senate Select Watergate Committee to investigate all matters involved in the Russia scandals and Trump’s abuse of power and obstruction of justice.
3. Demand bipartisan hearings in the House Judiciary Committee on obstruction of justice and abuse of power.
As always, the most critical thing we can do is VOTE!
January 4, 2018
When people tell me that they don’t pay attention to politics, I am always somewhat amazed. How do you not pay attention to politics, especially in this age of polarized extremes? Then I look back at most of my life when I did NOT pay attention to politics, and I am reminded why. Life takes over when you are young and finding your way, or going to school, or not so young and raising a family or building a career or being a caregiver or… just life.
But, at a certain point, I looked at what was going on in the world and realized that I had to pay attention. Politics – and politicians – have the power to work for the good of Americans or only for themselves; they can make or break our children’s future.
It’s as old as Aristotle: “(S)he who has no business with politics has no business at all”.
I felt this most acutely as I watched the election returns in 2004 and, anticipating Bush’s second term, I felt this panic. People told me not to worry, nothing horrible could come of his win. For good reason, I did not believe them.
When Barack Obama came into sight three years later, I became an activist. So many of us did. We went out and campaigned for this man who told us, “Yes, we can,” and we could! He won, and we won!
And all Americans won, even those who voted for his opponents, as he steadied the economy, reduced our military involvements and put an end to the crazy spiral of health-care denial and extortion
By August 2009, many of us sat back and relaxed. What did we have to worry about? We did our civic duty, didn’t we? We did not need to stay connected to our vision. We thought Obama could do the work just fine without us.
And then… obstructionism. The GOP practiced the art of deliberately impeding or delaying the course of legal, legislative, or other procedures. And they bragged about it. Perhaps the last straw was denying Judge Garland his hearing.
We left too soon. We forgot that we hold the power to our political futures with our voices, with our feet, with our votes. If we do not use these things, we cede our futures to those who do not have our interests at heart. And our complacency put an incompetent in the White House, though it could be said that the 65% of Republican voters (and the candidates) who conceded the nomination bear some responsibility!
With January 2017 we woke from the nightmare with Women’s Marches and new networks, among them a nationwide movement known as The Indivisibles: in Dutchess County our umbrella group is Indivisible the Fight is On – and we went to work to turn the tide.
The ebb and flow of activism is a tough nut to crack (to coin a metaphor, but you know what I mean). As Will Rogers knew, we are not blind conformists – anything but! Burn-out is a real problem too. I know that first hand. We were flowing at the beginning of 2017, and then we ebbed. And then the abominable tax bill passed, and hopefully, the winter months and the mounting issues will bring us back into gear.
When we speak as a collective, we are heard and Indivisible the Fight is On will continue to foster ways to speak as a collective. We remain committed. We are here to support. We are here to organize. We are here to help communicate the visions, the plans, the strategies amongst many collaborating organizations and dedicated individuals. If you care to fix the problems of polarization and obstructionism, we are here for you, all of us who live in the shadow of Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt.
Melanie Whaley, Chair of ITFIO
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Taking back the House in 2018 might very well depend on us. Rep. John Faso is among the most vulnerable of the GOP incumbents. Voting in a Democrat is our chance to put a check on the GOP’s and Trump’s power.
Faso now has a voting record that can be used against him. Here are some of the actions that Faso voted for in 2017 and that Trump supported.
Making concealed-carry firearm permits valid across state lines, co-sponsored by John Faso. (231-198)
Motion to table articles of impeachment against President Trump (364-58)
Prohibiting Department of Justice settlements that require parties to donate money to outside groups (238-183) Co-sponsored by John Faso
Banning abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy (237-189)
Giving the government more power to deport and deny admission to immigrants suspected of being in gangs (233-175)
Repeal of a rule banning some financial companies from using mandatory arbitration clauses (231-190)
Increasing penalties for undocumented immigrants who re-enter the U.S. after being convicted of certain crimes (257-167)
Penalizing states and localities that have “sanctuary” laws on immigration (228-195)
Dismantling financial regulations put in place by the Dodd-Frank Act (233-186)
May 4 The American Health Care Act of 2017 (217-213)
Allowing employers to offer employees time off instead of pay for overtime work (229-197)
Repeal of a Department of Labor rule on drug testing of applicants for unemployment compensation (236-189)
Repeal of a Department of Education rule on teacher preparation programs (240-181)
Repeal of a Department of Education rule on school accountability (234-190)
Repeal of a rule requiring the Social Security Administration to submit information to the national background-check system (235-180)
Repeal of the stream protection rule (228-194)
Permanent ban on the use of federal funds for abortion or health coverage that includes abortions (238-183)
Budget resolution to repeal the Affordable Care Act (227-198)
Full List HERE
The Tax Bill Passeth: Congressional Republicans and administration officials gathered on the White House steps yesterday to celebrate the passage of their landmark tax reform bill. It’s been their Holy Grail for 30 years.
They rushed the bill through to have something to show for their first year of controlling the House, Senate, and White House. “It’s the largest tax cut in the history of our country … really something special,” President Trump said.
The victorious president announced that he’d just been told that because of the bill’s passage, AT&T plans to invest $1 billion in the US and give all its employees a $1,000 bonus.
Other companies made similar announcements.
The plan is a major risk for the Republicans. It defies all historical evidence that deep tax cuts will spur the economy to new heights. If it works, they are geniuses. If it doesn’t, they’re sunk.
The tax bill gives deep and permanent tax cuts for corporations while providing temporary cuts for individuals. Trump said the corporate cut is “probably the biggest factor in this plan.”
It also repeals the requirement that everyone must have health insurance, dealing a heavy blow to Obamacare.
President Trump said, “When the individual mandate is being repealed, that means Obamacare is being repealed.”
No Democrats voted for the bill. Representative Lloyd Doggett, Democrat of Texas, said, “We will be cleaning up this mess and the blunders in this bill all of next year.”
The tax reform is very unpopular with the public and Republicans will have to convince the country it’s good. Sen. Mitch McConnell said, “If we can’t sell this to the American people we ought to go into another line of work.”
Taking Names: In his last cabinet meeting of the year, President Trump issued a threat to countries in the United Nations that oppose his decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.
“All these nations that take our money and then vote against us at the Security Council or the assembly, they take hundreds of millions of dollars and billions of dollars and they vote against us,” Trump said. “Well, we’re watching those votes. Let them vote against us, we’ll save a lot. We don’t care.”
He said, “People are tired of the United States — people that live here, our great citizens that love this country — they’re tired of this country being taken advantage of and we’re not going to be taken advantage of any longer.”
Trump would be cutting off aid to some strategic allies, including Egypt, which gets $1.3 billion a year for its military.
Back Flip: Gold medalist McKayla Maroney has filed a lawsuit against the US Olympic Committee and USA Gymnastics, accusing them of making her sign a confidential financial settlement to keep secret the sexual abuse she suffered as a teenager by team doctor and confessed molester Larry Nassar.
She accused the USOC of covering for Nassar and maintaining a “culture and atmosphere that conceals known and suspected sexual abusers.”
Maroney’s layer John Manly said, “This was an immoral and illegal attempt to silence a victim of child sexual abuse.”
The USOC says it had nothing to do with the settlement and USA Gymnastics says it was Maroney’s original lawyer, the publicity-seeking Gloria Allred, who had asked for confidentiality. Despite receiving a reported $1.25 million settlement, Maroney wants it nullified.
Nassar has been sent to prison for 60 years.
The Weinstein Effect: The NFL Network’s top news executive David Eaton has resigned after being found to have Twitter conversations with women who identify them as sex professionals. He was also accused of creating a hostile work environment for women.
The NFL Network suspended analysts Marshall Faulk, Ike Taylor, and Heath Evans last week because of claims of sexual harassment and assault made by a former wardrobe stylist.
The NY Times says it will keep it’s White House reporter Glenn Thrush, who was suspended for inappropriate behavior. He’ll be reassigned, though.
Collateral Damage: An estimated 9,000 to 11,000 civilians died in the battle to retake the Iraqi city of Mosul from the Islamic State, according to a report by the Associated Press. The news service cites a count kept by morgue workers and volunteers who retrieve bodies from the city’s bombed-out rubble.
Neither the US-led coalition nor the Iraqi government has acknowledged the body count.
Mexico Crash: Eight Americans were among the dead in the crash of a tour bus carrying cruise ship passengers in eastern Mexico. Three of them were from one family and a married couple also was killed.
Hoop Dreams: Defending NCAA basketball champion North Carolina was toppled last night 79-75 by Wofford College. Wofford? It’s a little school in downtown Spartanburg, SC. It’s the first time they’ve beaten a top 25 ranked opponent.
1984: The Republicans had given their tax bill the propaganda title of “The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act,” but the Senate parliamentarian scotched that because the name suggests things that have no impact on the budget. Under the rules by which it passed, the bill must influence the budget.
So, the parliamentarian ordered that the bill must go by its formal name, “An Act to provide for reconciliation pursuant to titles II and V of the concurrent resolution on the budget for fiscal year 2018.”
A name that will ring like a bell in American history.
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Why is it that the Democratic Party always makes its life more difficult? In the 2004 presidential race, just as John Kerry was finally regaining some momentum after the vicious smears concerning his Vietnam service, the gay community launched a gay marriage initiative. This sparked a huge turnout in red states that opposed gay marriage on religious grounds and contributed to Bush’s win. Now, just as the Republicans’ tax bill is handing the issue of income inequality to the Democrats on a silver platter, the airwaves are full of nothing but #MeToo accusations. We have ended up taking out one of our best senators and perhaps an untold number of Democratic congressmen so that our holier-than-thou party can harp on Donald Trump’s sexual transgressions in 2018. What we should be talking about is how this tax bill will solidify class in America and make it impossible for those not born with money to improve their lives. We should be offering an alternative tax scheme that truly alleviates the burden on the poor and middle class without driving up the deficit to untold heights. We should be holding seminars on TV on how trickle-down economics does not work, citing actual historical experiences with real people who were affected, not just statistics, which no one trusts anymore. I am a supporter of gay marriage and as a woman who has worked for corporations all my life, a victim of sexual harassment and pay discrimination. However, we should focus on the issues that are at the heart of the American people’s discontent—wage stagnation, jobs and automation, and the growing power of the corporate elite. Where are our plans to handle these problems?
This is not to say that sexual harassment should be ignored, but it should be handled in a dignified and codified fashion with opportunities for both sides to present their case and with proportional punishments. What we have now is an “identity politics” circus. I predict that we will see a huge backlash and the Democratic party will continue to lose support among white males—even young white males. I hope that we can learn from the experiences of 2004.