ELDER MUSIC: Toes Up in 2016 - Part 2
News About Old People - 11 January 2017

Call To Action Now: Senate Confirmation Hearings This Week

EDITORIAL NOTE: This is much longer than I intended and that's just how it is today. There's more stuff to know these days than my ability, sometimes, to summarize.

* * *

Remember when I told you last week that it was thousands of telephone calls from voters to Congress that forced House Republicans to reverse their decision to trash the Office of Congressional Ethics?

Too many news outlets reported that it was the president-elect's tweet that made the difference. No, it was not. Most members of Congress agree that it was the deluge of constituent phone calls that forced them to backtrack.

Throughout our coming resistance campaigns, do not forget that. Such is the mindset of our Congressional leaders that their number one concern is not the benefit of the country or its people; it is being re-elected next time.

If you are in the D.C. area and can visit your representative(s), go for it – that impresses them more than anything. But second are live phone calls. They work.

* * *

GOP CONFIRMATION BLITZ
Here we go. As mentioned in that Friday post, the Republicans are going to try to snow everyone into inattention by doing so much at once that no one – Democrats, press, the American public – can keep up. As Politico noted last week:

”Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) has personally urged Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) not to schedule simultaneous hearings on Trump’s selections, warning that such a move would test the new relationship between the two leaders.

“But the GOP ignored the entreaty by scheduling the attorney general, secretary of state, CIA director, education secretary, homeland security chief and transportation secretary all for the same day.”

That would be Wednesday this week, 11 January and the Republicans, as to be expected these days, ignored Schumer. Here are the nominees whose separate hearings are currently scheduled to be held that day:

Nominees

Actually, Jeff Sessions, who is the most controversial of all the nominees so far, is scheduled for a two-day hearing beginning on Tuesday 10 January and all the other nominees should be scheduled for more than one Senate committee session. At the risk of stating the obvious, just how are citizens expected to follow this bum's rush?

Further, most of the background checks and ethics clearances have not been finished. Bad enough but wait, there's more.

KICKER
Here is the kicker to these multiple hearings: The Republicans, in addition to scheduling hearings of five of the most crucial appointments in one day are getting extra help at confusing the country from the president-elect:

On the same day, 11 January, Donald Trump is holding his first open press conference since July 2016. Now what do you think will lead the news on Wednesday and how much short shrift will these nominees get?

OTHER NOMINEE HEARINGS THIS WEEK
In addition to Jeff Sessions on Tuesday, 10 January: Retired Marine General John Kelly for Secretary of Homeland Security

Thursday, 12 January
Ben Carson for Secretary of Housing and Urban Development
Wilbur Ross for Secretary of Commerce

1. All the schedules are subject to change at Republican whim

2. Do your homework on these nominees. Track down the arguments for and against each one's confirmation

3. You can start that with the short version at this Washington Post page but go further, Google them and see what you learn.

And here is something worth knowing that I've excerpted from a The New York Times report:

”Donald Trump’s transition team and Senate Republicans are determined to railroad several nominees to his cabinet of billionaires and moguls through to confirmation without fully revealing business interests that could disqualify them, say people both inside and outside government who are working on the transition process.

“This is unprecedented, potentially illegal, and the clearest sign yet of Mr. Trump’s cavalier attitude toward criminal laws preventing federal officials from profiting from public service.”

WHAT WE NEED TO DO
So our job this week is to:
Do our homework on these nominees

Follow the hearings as best we can depending on how much attention the press pays as the president-elect's press conference shuck and jive is the shiniest of shiny object this week

Deluge our senators with phone calls about where we stand about each of the nominees

You might throw in how you feel about cramming this many confirmation hearings into one day, especially one when the president-elect holds a press conference

To prepare for your call, use those scripts in the Indivisible Guide and this page under the header “Calling Script” to help write a script in your own words.

Even with as many conflicts of interest there are with nearly every nominee – all of whom are millionaires, billionaires, insiders or highest level military – I expect all, with the possible exception of Jeff Sessions, to be approved.

We are not going to win everything we resist but maintaining democracy is never-ending work and we are as responsible to do our part as every other age group. And it IS relevant to our lives.

Remember that slogan from the Sixties: The personal is the political. My friend Tony Sarmiento sent a link to the Wikipedia page about that for us.

Call your senators before the vote of the full Senate on these nominees. Wednesday is a good day to do it.

* * *

EXTRA: How the Confirmation Process Works
In case you are wondering how the confirmation process works – first of all it is contained in Article II, Section 2, Clause 2 of the United States Constitution, known as the Appointments Clause which, a different Wikipedia entry explains:

"...empowers the President of the United States to appoint certain public officials with the 'advice and consent' of the U.S. Senate. This clause also allows lower-level officials to be appointed without the advice and consent process."

ABC News provides us with the best, most succinct description of the process I have read:

1. A nomination is given to the relevant Senate committee. The Senate Judiciary Committee, for example, handles the attorney general nomination.

2. That committee can then hold hearings, vote to move the nomination straight to the Senate floor for a vote or not move on it at all (in which case, the committee effectually kills the nomination).

3. After hearings, the committee votes to report a nomination to the full Senate, requiring a simple majority. It may vote to report the nomination favorably, unfavorably or without recommendation. If a committee sits on an appointment, the full Senate may vote to invoke cloture and move the nomination along.

4. If a nomination clears committee, it moves to the Senate floor for a simple majority vote. Filibusters are not an issue here because Democrats changed Senate rules three years ago to eliminate the 60-vote threshold for most nominations. Supreme Court picks are still subject to filibuster.

Certainly I know that I am asking for a lot. Please keep in mind this new government is not business as usual. These appointments are not normal. And "it" CAN happen here. We must each do our part to prevent it.

Comments

Thank you for doing the "legwork" on putting this information together for us. My intellectual abilities have been compromised a bit by chemotherapy (known as "brain fog") and it is greatly appreciated!!

Obviously the Republicans want to ram through all these nominations before the public, the press, or the Democrats have time to scrutinize, criticize, or object. This is the action of someone with something to hide.

Phew, okay, everything's moving fast, too fast. The bullet I'm going to take from this is to make phone calls. This stuff is challenging to me, and probably a lot of others too. But we can all call our senators, right?

I do have problems with with most of these nominees but Betsy de Vos (sp?) bothers me a lot !
I have read that she is a multi-millionaire so.......how can she possibly be sensitive to the plight of inner-city kids, their parents, and the school systems they are forced to accept ? How can you understand what it is like to NEED when you have never been needy ?

Thanks, Ronni, for this excellent summary. I am wondering how we find out which committee's deal with which cabinet appointments.

Faster, and faster, and faster—but certainly not better! That will be their method of operation for the next while. They will keep us all scrambling to keep up. Important things will be missed. They are counting on it!

Sharry Teague...
If you follow the links in the story - in this instance, the Washington Post, the committees are named for each one. I do my best to give you everything you need to know but sometimes I let the links do the work to help keep my post to an ALMOST reasonable length.

I called the machine at Senator Coryn's office, I knew him when he was a Judge here but I doubt he remembers me. As for the other Senator he is busy kissing up to DT.

I live in Seattle, the bluest of the blue. I know my Senators, Murray and Cantwell, are on board. Should I call other senators and lie about my zip code?

Catherine brand and everyone else...
OF COURSE, you should call your senators even if you believe they will vote the way you want. First, at some point they might not - for all kinds of political reasons. And, equally important, it is not who you call, it is the NUMBER OF CALLS.

Democratic/blue senators will report the number of calls they got on any given topic too - it adds to the tally.

Also Catherine...
Don't bother to call other senators. They don't care unless you are a constituent - you can't vote for them and remember, that's all they care about.

What Ronnie said. It is a good idea to stick to your own Congresspeople and mostly a waste of time to bother with any outside your district.
I'm in Hawaii. My Senators, Schatz and Hirono, can be counted on to do the right thing, so I write them and thank them for what they do and ask them if they have any suggestions for what I should be doing. Schatz tweets that this scheduling is deliberate, a way of wearing down people. It's a form of harassment. My Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard is not on the ball right now. All I see from her is boiler plate tweets in favor of good causes and photo ops on her surfboard or standing with veterans. I have phoned her office twice and talked to an aide who seemed clueless. She worries me.
The Republicans are simply awful! What else is there to say?

I'm involved with a group following the Indivisible guidelines. This morning I called one Representative and two Congressmen -- representing me. I asked them to do what they could to prevent consideration of candidates until they were vetted properly.

At a recent meeting several women said they had Republican friends who were quite dismayed by what Trump et al. were doing and saying.

Does anyone have the "secret formula" for obtaining direct email addresses for senators? I don't think the one-size-fits-all form would be as useful as a personal email, but I can't find the actual email addresses listed anywhere. I've spent over 2 hours online getting dumped from one obsolete website to another--frustrating. I was able to find my representative's email pretty easily.

Good to know that we should contact our Congress members even if they are true-blue (Catherine and I share two Progressive senators)--nice to thank them, too.

As someone who's found the blog interesting and informative over the years I'm disappointed now to find the emphasis has become political. I understand the reason for this, the election of that hideous man, has horrified people all over the world, but I feel he's now destroyed the blog I liked so much. Is it possible to create a sub-blog for the political posts? I'm not an American citizen and live on the other side of the world but I do relate to the age related posts and miss them.

Reminder for everyone:
Only the Senate approves (or not) presidential nominees. The House has no part in the process per the Constitution so calls to representatives on this issue have no effect.

We gonna learn a whole lot about how Congress works during this resistance...

Elizabeth Rogers...
Senate and House websites have their postal addresses. Please do keep in mind that email and letters (even snailmail) have little or no effect. If you can't visit in person - Washington or your local offices - phone calls make the most impact.

macmsue...
No. No "sub blog" - I already spend 50-60 hours a week on this blog. I don't have the energy to add more work.

I'm sorry you don't like the politics - obviously your choice, particularly if you are not American I see your point. However, your comment gives me the opportunity point out that we should all keep in mind that the worst instincts of our president-elect - and the Republican Congress too - can have devastating effects not only on the United States, but the entire world.

You took the words right out of my mouth Ronni.

macmsue...

I'm Canadian. We are all affected by "the election of that hideous man", no matter what country we call home. I'm deeply grateful to Ronni and these gutsy, smart, determined American commenters for dedicating themselves to the "political" task at hand. Pretty much everything is political. And if we don't pay attention to that fact, the world is in deep trouble.

Ronni, thanks for the address info. I've never been a fan of talking on the phone and am unlikely to become one now but will heed your advice when I can.

I'd like to email you directly about a technical problem, but I might as well ask if anyone else is encountering difficulty when signing into TGB. I often get an error message that TGB won't open due to a "long running script" or a message to "recover webpage". I either stop the script or recover the page (sometimes both), which usually but not always clears the problem eventually, but maybe there's another resolution. . .

The newfound euphoria the Republicans are experiencing is powering them to already spend time passing bills under the radar.

...

It goes after regulations and is partly done by putting regulatory procedures into the waste basket when Congress does nothing within a certain amount of time. That's perfect, yes? They later can say they didn't vote for or against it. So they're beginning to validate the methods they've been using the past 8 years by skirting the issues, doing nothing, and legitimizing that non-action. (If this doesn't come thru, go to Naked Capitalism, today's issue.

Now this might not go far, but this is where we need reliable notification of this sort of chicanery AHEAD of time. And to me this is much more important than Bleach Boy's financial holdings, near-nepotism and silly tweets. Those are 'covers,' and Ryan's actions must be checked. There will be very sophisticated strategies used the next 4 years.

Remember the book "The Island" and the constant call for "Attention!" for all to hear and heed. We can't afford to wait and see.

Prior to the election I had much difficulty accessing articles about *. My computer would "freeze" and I'd have to restart -- this didn't happen just a couple of times, it happened many, many times. Sometimes it just wouldn't let me go to the page at all. Now that the election is over, my computer has not frozen even once.

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