If you were like me, you experienced extreme emotional vacillation between intense late night anxiety and outright hysterical laughing at the White House antics, which even the conservative newspaper the NY Post couldn’t help but poke fun at. As another roller-coaster of a week ends, I can report that many good things happened – 7/29/17.
HEALTHCARE, HEALTHCARE, HEALTHCARE – Three republicans stood up to their party, and all the democrats, and saved millions of people from losing affordable healthcare. Now we need to make sure the same happens for tax cuts for the wealthy.
DEFENDING IMMIGRANTS – Massachusetts’ Supreme Judicial Court, ruled that local law enforcement does not have the authority to detain people beyond the time they would otherwise be entitled to be released from state custody based solely on a request from federal immigration authorities. Oxnard City Council in California passed a “safe city” resolution to support immigrants and their commitment for police not to enforce federal immigration laws.
SAVING THE PLANET – The UK has banned new diesel and petrol cars from the UK starting in 2040 and announced a £255m fund to help local councils tackle emissions. A coalition of 11 states, including NY, IL, IA, ME, MD, MA, NM, OR, RI, VT and WA filed a petition with the U.S. Ct of Appeals challenging the EPA’s decision to delay new chemical plant safety rules. 100,000 pages of documents collected by environmentalist regarding the chemical industry obtained through discovery in lawsuits against Dow, Monsanto, the EPA and others are now publicly available through a project called the Poison Papers.
CRIMINAL JUSTICE REFORM – Pedro Hernandez, a teen held at NYC’s notorious Rikers Island for a year on $250,000 bail awaiting trial, was released on bail after the Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights organization posted his bail after the DA agreed to lower the amount. The City of Aurora Colorado will pay $110,000 to settle a claim by the ACLU on behalf of Darsean Kelley, a young Black man who was unlawfully stopped and tased in the back by the police just as he said “I know my rights.” Luckily he was not killed. The ACLU sued Cranston, RI over its panhandling ordinance.
DECRIMINALIZING MARIAJUANA – Massachusetts Gov. signed a law to enact the rules to legalize marijuana for recreational use, nine months after voters approved ballot measures to allow it. York City became the 5th municipality in Pennsylvania to reduce possession of small amounts of marijuana to a violation from a crime and give officers the discretion to issue citations and fines instead of arresting.
PROTECTING WOMEN’S HEALTH – A U.S. District Court Judge issued an injunction blocking new abortion restrictions in Arkansas, including a ban on D&C’s procedures during the second trimester and a fetal remains law that would require a partner’s consent before a woman could get an abortion. An anti-abortion group dropped its challenge of a federal restraining order which required a buffer zone to prevent them from blocking the entrance to the only abortion clinic in Kentucky. In Washington State, victims of domestic violence will now be notified if their abuser illegally tries to buy a gun.
ELECTION NEWS – Democrats held on to two state senate seats in special elections in New Hampshire and Massachusetts to replace legislators who died. Kevin Cavanaugh won for District 16 in NH and n MA, Cindy Friedman won the 4th Senate District, where no republican even challenged her. A Brookings report shows that as of the end of June 208 democratic House challengers filing with the FEC had raised $5,000 or more as compared to 28 Republicans, with 105 Republican incumbents having Democratic challengers with $5,000, double the amount at this same time in 2009.
SECURING VOTING RIGHTS – A Massachusetts Suffolk Superior Court Judge ruled the state’s requirement that eligible voters register at least 20 days before an election is unconstitutional.
FEDERAL AGENCIES STILL DOING THEIR JOB – Bass Pro Shops Outdoor World will pay $10.5 million to settle a lawsuit brought by the EEOC alleging they discriminated against minorities in its hiring practices. Halliburton will pay $29.2 million to settle an SEC violation over the company’s operations in Angola where they were accused of improperly partnering with local Angolan-owned businesses.
FIGHTING FOR LGBTQ RIGHTS – The ACLU filed a lawsuit against North Carolina’s House Bill 142, legislation that replaced the bathroom bill, alleging the replacement law also discriminates against transgender people. South Carolina’s highest court ruled the state’s domestic violence law is unfair to people in same-sex relationships because it doesn’t allow them to obtain protective orders and held they are entitled to the same protections as heterosexual couples. Minnesota shows us how to treat people, the state’s Dept. of Ed approved a toolkit that sets best practices for schools to create inclusive environments for all students, including those who are transgender and gender-nonconforming.
BREAKING BARRIERS AND STRONG WOMEN – The Women’s World Cup final watched by 1.1 million people, the highest number of viewers of any women’s cricket match in the UK. Rena Nessler made American Legion history when she was elected as the first woman commander of the Legion Department of New York. Major General Sheryl Gordon became the first woman commander of the Alabama National Guard. The Pentecostal Assemblies of the World selected Mona Reide and Gwendolyn Weeks as the first and second women to become bishop. The American Culinary Federation elected the first African-American woman to its board. The popular TV show Love Connection made history having their first Lesbian contestant in the show’s history. It was a heart-warming episode. The Girl Scouts unveiled 23 new badges related to science, technology, mathematics, and nature activities.
AROUND THE WORLD – A Chinese Court ruled that a transgender man was unjustly fired from his job and that workers cannot be discriminated against “based on their ethnicity, race, gender or religious beliefs.” Poland’s president vetoed controversial legislation that would have wiped out the country’s Supreme Court’s independence.
FREEDOM OF SPEECH AND OTHER GOOD THINGS – A Virginia federal court ruled the First Amendment Free Speech Clause prohibits officeholders from blocking social media users on the basis of their views. A Michigan State Judge upheld an injunction that stops the states from providing public money to private schools to help them cover the cost of complying with state mandates.
STANDING UP TO THE BULLY – It was a week where many powerful and important people, friend and foe alike, stood up to 45 to condemn or resist his threats, actions, and words in so many ways;
- The Boy Scouts issued a public apology for allowing 45’s political speech during their jubilee.
- Numerous republicans weighed in on his threat to fire Sessions with bold statements like “there will be holy hell to pay”, “The agenda for the judiciary [committee] is set for the rest of 2017. Judges first subcabinet 2nd/ AG no way” and “If we have to stay in session to protect Sessions, we’d do so.” Even though I detest Sessions and all he stands for, 45’s reasons for his potential firing are disturbing as are its potential effect on the special investigation.
- Republicans and Democrats came together in Congress (Senate 98-2 and House 419-3) to pass legislation to impose new sanctions on Russia, Iran, and North Korea and give Congress the ability to block 45 from lifting Russian sanctions. We are beginning to see cracks in the Republican wall of support for 45.
- The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff wrote a memo that the military would continue to “treat all of our personnel with respect and the Pentagon policy on transgender troops would not change until the White House has issued Trump’s directive to Secretary of Defense Mattis through formal channels, not on Twitter, and the Secretary’s office issues guidance on implementation”
- The NYPD, Suffolk County Police Department, the International Association of Chiefs of Police and other police condemned 45’s speech in Suffolk County in which he encouraged officers to rough up suspects. NYC’s Police Commissioner said “To suggest that officers apply any standard in the use of force other than what is reasonable and necessary is irresponsible, unprofessional and sends the wrong message to law enforcement.” Suffolk County also responded that “As a department, we do not and will not tolerate roughing up of prisoners”.
WTF – I will say only two words on this subject, “The Mooch“. Need I say more?
THE NEVER ENDING REVOLVING DOOR OF EMPLOYEES AND APPLICANTS – We had more big exits this week, including Chief of Staff Reince Priebus and assistant press secretary Michael Short. Who will be next? John Fluharty withdraw his name from consideration for a senior position saying he is a strong advocate for diversity, both in the Republican Party and in government and the ban on transgender in the military runs counter to his beliefs and it would be impossible for him to serve the Administration knowing that he would be working against those values.
AWESOME ACTIVISM – Law enforcement officials from major Texas’s cities, including Dallas rallied against the “bathroom bill” legislation, saying it would make it more difficult for police to do their job, pull resources away from fighting violent crime, and is unnecessary. Special shout out to those who threw their bodies on the line for all of us by getting arrested in DC fighting to save healthcare. Transgender Democratic candidate for a Virginia House seat Danica Roem received a $50,000 campaign donation in response to the announced transgender military ban. There is a new website tool created by former EPA scientists to help non-scientists better understand the EPA and explain simple and easy ways to be effective at environmental activism. You can find it here.
Consider donating to your favorite candidate, Ballotpedia reports that democratic candidates in Florida’s State Senate District 40 special election race in southwest Miami-Dade have raised $102,000 compared to 1.4 million raised by republicans. Let’s not get distracted by the stupidity, stay focused on fighting the real issues buried behind the drama.