Saturday, February 18, 2017


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Caroline and Andy Armstrong
        I'm proud of my politically active family members. They are doing the right thing! Several are involved in the Indivisible movement. Others are busily engaged, in all sorts of useful ways. For example, my son and daughter-in-law, Andy and Caroline, as part of Indivisible  have been attending meetings and rallies, tweeting daily, making strategic calls, and writing letters.  Yesterday they shared a letter they had addressed to Congressman Leonard Lance, who represents New Jersey's 7th District. Below is the letter with their covering note. It could serve as a model for others to use in their efforts to hold their local representatives accountable:

Thought you might appreciate this letter, which went out in today’s mail.  Our latest catharsis.  We borrowed some language and the basic format of a brilliant letter written by our friend Pete Jaques to Lance, and took off from there....

February 16, 2017
Dear Representative Lance,
Over the course of the past few months following Mr. Trump’s election, we had been cautiously optimistic that you would be among those in your party who would place reason above ideological extremism; the health, safety and welfare of your constituents above self-serving interests (aka re-election); and stand firm in the protection of our fragile democracy. Sadly, in recent weeks and months your and your party’s actions have been shockingly callous, down-right dangerous, and truly disheartening. They make it perfectly clear that you and the majority of your House colleagues and Republican Senators, as well as the President and his Cabinet appointees, are opposed to the well-being of almost all of the American people and willing to sacrifice our democracy for self-serving interests. To wit:
(1) Your party’s tacit acceptance of Russian ties to and influence on the Trump administration is disturbing, to say the least. To our knowledge, no one in the Republican Party supports a House investigation – one that, incidentally, should be handled by an independent, bipartisan commission. Yet, you and your colleagues supported the FBI’s reopening of Hillary Clinton’s email investigation to ascertain whether any classified information was compromised on her private server. Your silence on this current matter is tacit support for ignoring a far more dangerous and insidious situation than Clinton’s emails.
(2) You and your party have been silent thus far on the Trump family conflicts of interest which are readily apparent both in the U.S. and abroad, and which appear to be in violation of both the Foreign Emoluments and Domestic Emoluments Clauses of the U.S. Constitution (for updated list of U.S. and foreign conflicts, see:…/tracking-trumps-web-of-confli…/… ). Congressman Jerrold Nadler recently introduced a Resolution of Inquiry directing the Department of Justice to provide the House of Representatives with any and all information relevant to an inquiry into President Trump and his associates’ conflicts of interest, ethical violations and Russia ties. Your silence, thus far, is troubling to say the least.
(3) You voted more than 50 times in support of a repeal of the Affordable Care Act during the Obama administration. Today, you call for “repeal and replace” (see attached flyer recently distributed to Hunterdon County households) or for “repeal and repair” (whatever that means), and now some members of the Republican caucus are advocating for repeal without a replacement plan. Where are you on this, Congressman? The best case scenario your party has put forward would provide health benefits basically to the wealthy and the healthy. Those of us with pre-existing conditions – nearly 30% of the U.S. population – will be out of luck. You say that there are too many constituents who can’t afford the premiums under the ACA. Why won’t you break from your ideological perch and accept that higher taxes on the wealthy and more generous tax subsidies for the middle and working class could help to address this problem? Does ideology eclipse human lives?
(4) Your support for the repeal of the stream protection rule and rule to require energy companies to reduce waste and emissions, along with the GOP’s intention to diminish the authority of – if not completely eliminate (see H.R.861) – the Environmental Protection Agency, can only mean that you intend to stop protecting the American people from proven unhealthy or downright dangerous effects of industrial practices of various kinds. By the way, you can imagine the impact that dirtying our environment will have on public health, only reinforcing the need for a health care solution that is if not the ACA itself, something that provides equivalent or better protection. We’re all going to need it.
(5) You have readily acquiesced on the appointment of Cabinet and White House staff members who have exhibited unambiguous racist, bigoted and/or anti-Semitic leanings, including Jeff Sessions and Trump Administration staffers Steve Bannon and Steve Miller. This you have done, in spite of your past voting record against racism, bigotry and anti-Semitism which you shared with us previously. But here’s the thing – the past is meaningless if the present demonstrates actions and positions to the contrary.
(6) Your response to the President’s “Muslim ban,” in which it seemed your only complaint was that the Executive Order “appear[ed] rushed and poorly implemented,” was muted in its condemnation and didn’t address how the order has alienated many of our trusted allies and served ISIS (which has called the order “blessed”) in its recruiting efforts.
(7) Recently, your party’s intention to emasculate the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau was leaked. In other words, they intend to remove the people’s shield against financial predators so that the latter can reap even greater profit. Again, this benefits the wealthiest Americans and hurts the rest of us.
(8) Your party’s intention to roll back Dodd-Frank can only mean that they intend to give predatory financial institutions permission to prey upon the little guy once again and to gamble with almost everyone else’s hard-earned money. A great many people have still never recovered from the Great Recession of 2008, caused in large part by the removal of regulation.
I urge you and your Republican colleagues to resist the forces of big money and the reckless erosion of our democracy and American values.
Caroline and Andrew Armstrong

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