It is not too late to do the right thing

November 19, 2019

Dear Senator Tillis,

Today we are coming to your office to demand that you stop lying to the people of North Carolina and stop defending this president and his criminal friends.  As a member of the Judiciary Committee and a United States Senator, your continued determination to defend the indefensible is shameful. You have told so many lies this week, like when you said that the Mueller report “found that there was no collusion and no obstruction.”  You know perfectly well that this is not true, and that this report detailed actual crimes by the president, some of them impeachable offenses.

 

You said, “The American people are tired of the House getting nothing done.”  On the contrary, the House has passed over 100 bills that the Senate is sitting on, including a crucial bill on election security.  All the Senate does is confirm extremist judges.

You said that the impeachment hearing is based on “secondhand knowledge.”  This is only true because the president and the state department have forbidden the firsthand people to testify.  They have demanded that people defy subpoenas, which is a crime. Evidence of the quid pro quo, and bribery, has now been backed up by multiple witnesses, and we all saw witness intimidation by the president in real time last week. 

 

You said that the “American people” think the impeachment hearing is a waste of time, yet 70% of Americans believe that what the president did in the Ukraine was wrong.  You said that nothing wrong happened because the aid was released to the Ukraine. But you know perfectly well that the aid was released only after the whistleblower report became public, and after months of bipartisan pressure by multiple senators, representatives, and officials.  

 

It is not too late for you to stop lying in a futile effort to save your job.  It is not too late to do the right thing. A president who uses his power for personal gain in a way that consistently undermines the national security of the United States deserves to be impeached.

Protester at Thom Tillis' office. Sign says Trump is a threat to National Security

Armistice Day Letter

Vicki Ryder speaks truth to power and gets an encouraging response from Erica Smith.

Posted by Tuesdays with Tillis on Tuesday, November 12, 2019

 

Dear Friends,

Never doubt that your efforts to “speak [or write] truth to power” can make a difference.

This past Monday – Armistice Day – I received an e-mail from Erica Smith, a Democrat who has served in the North Carolina Senate for the past four years and now is challenging US Senator Thom Tillis (R-NC) for his seat in Congress. Not surprisingly, her letter was filled with the usual platitudes about thanking the men and women in uniform who have “fought for our democratic freedoms.”

Knowing full well that our freedoms cannot be gained on the battlefield of other nations, and that our civil liberties have been declining since we began our ‘wars of terror’ in 2001, I wrote to her to share my thoughts about the true meaning of Armistice Day:

Dear Erica Smith, 

My husband is a Vietnam Veteran. He also serves as the president of the Triangle Chapter of Veterans for Peace, and he is among a growing number of US War veterans who ask that you please not “thank them for their service.” He asks instead that you thank them for working now to end US imperialist and racist wars. It is a fallacy to assert that these wars “protect our freedoms.” Killing innocent children in Yemen and Syria and Iran will not “protect our freedoms.” Spending trillions of our tax dollars — so badly needed at home for health care and housing and environmental protections — on war planes and drones instead does not “protect our freedoms.” It does not make us more secure. It does not keep us safe. We are “guardians of our liberties” only when we exercise and protect our right to vote and our right to dissent, and when we work to strengthen our democracy here at home. That includes working against gerrymandering and voter suppression, not killing people of color who are falsely tagged as our ‘enemies.’ 

 

I support your candidacy for U.S. Senate, but your Armistice Day message today sounds just like the one sent by Thom Tillis. If you want to win the vote of progressive voters who do not support U.S. racist militarism and expansion, I urge you to create a platform that includes cutting the military budget (not veterans’ benefits) and bringing our troops home where they can transition to jobs that build and don’t destroy. 

I wish you well in your campaign.

Most sincerely, 

Vicki Ryder

Durham, NC

 

I didn’t really expect a reply, but less than an hour after I sent that e-mail [!], I received the following response:

 

Vicki- 

Thank you for your support and for the “truth to power” response from you and your husband. Everything you said is “spot on.” Those making these decisions on our imperialism are many of the ones who dodged this service themselves, and since being elected have been self serving. They have abused their power, benefiting from great healthcare and a six figure salary compliments of our tax dollars – yet they won’t promote this access for working Americans and our Veterans. Our communications team has noted your recommendations and you will see us incorporate several of these tenets in our messaging moving forward. 

Thanks 

Erica

 

Writing letters, signing petitions, calling on our elected officials… all of this often seems fruitless, but sometimes – just sometimes – it’s worth the effort. Let’s not give up!

With love and in peace,

Vicki  

 

Support HR1, the For the People Act

November 12, 2019

 

Dear Senator Tillis,

 

It is time for the Senate to vote on HR1, For the People Act of 2019:  To expand Americans’ access to the ballot box, reduce the influence of big money in politics, and strengthen ethics rules for public servants, and for other purposes.  Do you have the courage to stand up and let M. Mitch know that a campaign finance and ethics overhaul is actually how many of you on the Hill are going to stay out of jail?  I hope you have a lawyer and I hope she’s good.

 

Voting, Money In Politics and Ethics.  Where do you stand?  

 

Voting:  No need to go further than your ardent defense of voter ID laws, your endlessly stunning commitment to discriminatory practices.

 

Money In Politics:  $7,321,115.00 in your re-election bank.  We know about the NRA. Yet others remain not so evident.  Is Cambridge Analytica back on the job? Oh sorry, it closed last year in scandal mode.  Who’s your upcoming Big Data company? HR1 will at least make you vet the next group you use.

 

Ethics:  Your curious stand on information about a political opponent offered by a foreign adversary (yes sure, alert the FBI but oh heavens corroborate the information as well) does not fall into some gray area.  It affects the security of the country. Please pass that on when you’re getting a little more cash from 45.  

 

HR1 also requires candidates for President and Vice-President to submit 10 years of tax returns.

 

Our eternal wish:  Senator Tillis, do your job. With your heart as a guide all these answers will come easily.  You are forgetting who you are. You are forgetting who we are.

Stand up for our Country

November 5, 2019

 

Dear Senator Tillis:

I cry myself to sleep almost every night over the loss of my country – our country.  I am a registered Democrat but far more than that I am an American. I plead with you to search your conscience and take an informed stand about what is happening.  When I write “what is happening,” I mean all of the things that each cabinet leader seems to be doing with what used to somewhat work (Justice, Environment, State, etc etc).  I mean the Chair-Sitter in the oval office.  

You and Senator Burr are all we have to represent us in this toxic Senate environment.  We don’t understand why you are not standing up. I really mean that. I look at the facts – and I mean real facts, not flexible facts – and can’t you see that the majority of us also believe there is an emergency at the border – the emergency is about deaths, moral choices and human rights.  

I could go on and on but please know I love this country to the depths of my being.  I never believed in love it or leave it and I am not one looking to Canada for a new life.  I am staying put to bring my care and my talent to bringing justice to everyone. Right now, justice looks like removal of the Chair-Sitter.

If you met me, you might see how sincere I am.  And others who are like me. You can easily gather with us in a Town Hall here in the City of Oaks or anywhere of your choosing.  All of us are in so much pain over your silence and that of your colleagues. It is not too late to access your moral core, your soul.  Please meet with us.

Letter to the Senator

Dear Senator TIllis,

It is amazing to us how you seem to focus on exactly the wrong things. At a time when the president uses his powers for personal and political gain, the chief law enforcement officer of the United States acts like the president’s personal attorney, both break laws, and both force others to do the same, you pretend that all of this isn’t happening. You focus on non-issues such as “sanctuary cities.” There are no sanctuary cities in North Carolina, and multiple studies have shown that undocumented people are far less likely to commit crimes than naturalized citizens. The reason why you and the president lie about undocumented people is to inflame the racism of your base. This kind of divisive politics serves no one except Putin and the billionaires.

Meanwhile, 5,400 migrant children were separated from their parents. How can you possibly support a president who would do this? How can you continue to support a president who takes money away from FEMA, and from our troops so that he can build a useless wall and fund ICE?

The Senate resolution objecting to the House investigation of the president is another non-issue. Meanwhile, actual pressing issues include the corruption of our own government, the climate crisis, racist policies, a trillion dollar deficit as a result of the tax cut for the rich, mass incarceration, gun violence, the 400,000 children who have lost health care coverage since 2016, and the abandonment of our Kurdish allies in Syria. You have nothing to say about any of these things.

Your contempt for your constituents and your contempt for the rule of law become clearer every day. But, as always, it is not too late to do the right thing. Support the impeachment of this lawless president and start talking about things that matter.

Letters to the Senator

October 22, 2019

 

Dear Senator Tillis,

The president has surrounded himself with criminals and commits high crimes and misdemeanors repeatedly in public.  He is corrupt to the core, and has appointed corrupt people to serve on his cabinet, most of them selected for their willingness to dismantle the very agencies they are supposed to lead.  Partisan voter suppression is rampant, and interference with our elections by foreign governments is invited and occurs in plain sight. Our intelligence agencies and dedicated public servants are contradicted and silenced and threatened.  The Attorney General of the United States is using his office to traffic in false conspiracy theories so that he can punish the political enemies of the president. The president blatantly mocks and disregards the rule of law.

 

Where will it end?  Meanwhile, you who have been charged with defending the Constitution instead continue to parrot the lies and obstruction of the president and his cronies.  Meanwhile, you think the most important thing you can do is to sign an amicus brief for a florist who thinks it is her 1st Amendment right to refuse to make a flower arrangement for queer people.  This was emphatically not what our founders intended by putting “freedom of religion” in the Constitution, and you know it.

 

It is not too late to decide to be on the right side of history.  There is no way you can win the next election except by becoming as much of a criminal as the president.  Why not do the right thing, and actually represent the people of North Carolina, and actually defend the Constitution of the United States?  We demand that you call for the House bill about Syria to come to the floor of the Senate. We demand that you impeach this president.

Letters to the Senator

October 15, 2019

Dear Senator Tillis,

All over the world, indigenous people are fighting for their lives and fighting to save the earth. All over the world, people yearn for democracy and for justice. This past week, the president made a disastrous decision regarding Syria for no apparent reason, crushing the Kurdish people and accelerating the destruction of a part of the world that had achieved a fragile stability.

You have defended the president’s decision. Doesn’t it worry you that he did not consult anyone from the Pentagon or any foreign policy advisors or allies, but simply did this hideous and hugely consequential thing on a whim during a phone call with one of his favorite strongmen? Doesn’t it disturb you that now not only the Kurdish people but also our own troops are under attack, and the United States is weakened suddenly while all of this is in the interest of Russia, Syria, Iran, and ISIS? Why exactly are you allowing this to happen? Surely you know it is wrong.

Meanwhile, the greed and cruelty that seems to fuel the president is the same mindset that is destroying the earth. His destruction of the EPA, rollback of crucial environmental regulations, and contempt for the Paris agreement are rapid movements in the wrong direction at the very time when we absolutely must apply all of our energy into trying to save the earth for future generations. It is no longer possible to deny that the earth is becoming uninhabitable for increasing numbers of people each year because of carbon emissions and environmental destruction. If you would have town halls you would see that this is emerging as the number one concern among young people, and for good reason.

Please meet with your constituents. Represent the people of North Carolina, not the billionaires and corporations. It is not too late to do the right thing.

Letters to the Senator

October 8, 2019

Dear Senator Tillis,

Blatantly inviting or coercing foreign governments to help him get elected is a good reason to impeach the president, but his rhetoric and policy concerning immigrants is just as disturbing. Since he first announced his campaign, he has characterized Mexicans as criminals and worse, manipulating public sentiment in false and hideous ways. The truth is that only 1.8% of immigrants commit crimes, compared to 3% of naturalized citizens.

Meanwhile, there is a concerted effort by the White House to make people believe that immigrants are a drain on the economy when the opposite is true. Study after study has shown that immigrants put far more money into the economy than they take out. Undocumented people put 16 billion dollars into Social Security each year and will never be able to collect any of this money.

Every week there are efforts by the White House to terrorize undocumented people and restrict immigration. Constitutional and human rights violations of immigrants escalate daily. In the past few weeks alone, there have been repeated efforts by the Administration to severely limit immigration, by the “presidential declaration,” the “public charge” declaration, and the proposal to deny visas to immigrants who lack health care coverage.

North Carolina is home to about 325,000 undocumented people. They are our neighbors, colleagues, and friends. We are protesting today in solidarity with them and demanding that you stand up to this president’s cruelty and lies.

Letters to the Senator

Letter prepared to present to NC Rep Price at his informal town hall and to Sen Tillis who has not had a public town hall since elected in 2018.

My name is Laurie Fox, from Durham.
Thank you for this opportunity to speak directly with you.

I am here to urge you to intervene on behalf of Carlos Hernandez, a man who has been unjustly detained by ICE since August 13 of this year.

I’d like you to think about the repercussions of removing this, or ANY, Head of Household from a family of 6.

I ask you: Who becomes the breadwinner? Who will be the children’s caregiver as they are catapulted into POVERTY?

Think of the effect of the trauma to the whole family, especially the children: the effects on their schooling and their overall education, their physical and mental health: the fear, anger, depression and distrust that may imprint for life.

Think of the human repercussions that the community must deal with in the schools, on the street and at our clinics. I have seen similar tragic cases during the years I worked at a community heath center. The psycho-social and economic ramifications are exceeding painful and costly for the whole community!

Think of the human consequences of ONE entirely unnecessary and cruel ICE action: the detention of a decent, contributing, longstanding member of the community who has harmed noone.

No one benefits from this action. The entire community suffers.

Are you not moved, Rep Price, Senator Tillis, to stop this cascade of life-long misery with all your power and heart?

Please commit to fighting for Carlos Hernandez, his family, and our whole community.

STOP ICE from fueling the disintegration of families and communities, citizens and non-citizens alike.

Letters to the Senator

September 17, 2019

 

Dear Senator Tillis,

Surely you can see that the bullying, “winner take all” attitude of your party in North Carolina (your enduring legacy here) and in the White House and Senate are a real danger to democracy.  Indeed, you have nearly destroyed democracy, and we wonder if you know the extent of the damage.   Clearly the GOP cannot win elections without lying and cheating, and you need the help of hostile foreign governments and aggressive voter suppressionin order to elect candidates who will further your extreme right-wing agenda.

 

If this is not true, why is the Senate not taking up H. R. 3351, the House bill which gave 500 million dollars to the states for election security?  Apparently, Senator McConnell wants the Russians to continue to tilt the election in the president’s favor, and he himself wants to continue to get their help.   Apparently both men know that in a true election (one person, one vote) they will be voted out.  Doesn’t this bother you, or have you totally sold your soul because you too know that cheating and lying is the only way you can stay in power?

 

Our entire intelligence community has said emphatically that hostile foreign powers are already at work on the 2020 election.  In every country, we need paper ballots and machines that can’t be hacked, in time for the next election.

 

We call upon you to represent ALL of the people of North Carolina, to have town halls, to listen and give serious thought to what benefits all of us.  We call upon you to stand up for election security and against voter suppression.  This would be contrary to everything you have done so far in public life, but you took an oath to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.  It is never too late to do the right thing.