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This is a summary diary. Here you will find a list of the actions we suggested yesterday in the Caucus Diary on Syria.  I have tried to organize them in a helpful way. Time is very short, both for us in the lead-up to this vote and for me this morning as I have to run to a rally at Chris Van Hollen’s District Office. Things are heating up here!

So please don’t mind it that I’m not giving each Kossack credit for his/her idea. I’m throwing these together as quickly as I can. No lack of appreciation for your ideas is intended!

What We Came Up With Yesterday:

Traditional tactics (not to be despised!)

Since time is very very short, we may need to rely on the traditional ways of lobbying our legislators more than I’d like. But these tactics are not to be despised, though there are more effective ones, I think (the more effective ones often take more time, unfortunately).

1) Go in person and lobby. Especially veterans.

2) Use MB’s whip count diary, and focus on undecideds, especially those outside MIC interest. In other words pick the easiest ones first then dig in on the tough ones towards vote time.

3) Focus on the House; we have a better chance there.

4) But people with high-profile Senators can use them to generate publicity.

5) When they get to the floor we should flood c- span phones. People will be watching.

Follow the money

1) Boycott donors, and be loud about it. Either do it simultaneously with all of them or do a rolling boycott.

2)This may take a lot of time, and thus perhaps all we could do right now is call for a boycott with an online web page/petition—signers will be committing to boycott; funders of the Aye vote Reps would be listed, and phone numbers of their corporate offices included. In order to do this, necessary to go to MB’s whip count page and looking up the donors of the Aye vote representatives on Open Secret or Maplight. Could also be publicized on Twitter and elsewhere, once page was up.

Follow me below the orange squiggle for messaging ideas, PR, and legislative tricks we could use to stop this march to war.


1)    Let's stay focused and deliver the same message, regardless of who we're calling. The language should A) counter the current words being used to sell this "limited action" to us by our "media", using actual facts and examples, but B) still be short and sweet enough to keep the attention of the person answering the phone (who of course will not be the rep or senator). Top two talking points:  Powell Doctrine says NO! and cost of war.

2)    Point 1:  Powell Doctrine

a.    'Syria Fails Powell Test, you must vote no’: I'd frame the message as a demand for  'no military action' because the case for action in Syria fails the Powell test.  This framing tells reps that the American people are saying 'no'.

b.     YOU MUST VOTE NO because:
1)NO vital national security interest threatened.
2) NO clear attainable objective.
3) NO full, frank analysis of risks and costs.
4) NO non-violent policy means not fully exhausted.
5) NO plausible exit strategy to avoid endless entanglement.
6) NO full consideration of the consequences of our action.
7) NO SUPPORT from [percentage] of the American people
8) NO genuine broad international support

3)    Point 2: How will we pay for it?

a.    RIGHT NOW, what will YOU be willing to cut, to pay for another war? Go on record, if you don't mind, sir/ma'am, thank you very much~!

b.    Insist that it come out of the NSA  budget: 'Want War? - De-fund NSA!'

c.    If we don't have enough money to create jobs for the American people, do we have enough money to go to war?"

4)    Point 3: Along those same lines: “As a military wife, I think it's super important to get politicians to think ahead as to the cost of veteran's care in any war. If we have a definite in and out plan for this act of war, we can also have an estimate of injured and killed in action. From that estimate, Congress should come up with dollar figures for the life long care of the injured veterans and for the families of those who die.”

5)    Other talking points/language for signs, etc. We should focus primarily on our top two talking points, IMO, but especially for signage and perhaps in press conferences if we can organize any, some of these points could be useful:

a.    Who is going to be the first one to die for still another mistake?

b.    Last night I saw a photo on facebook of a marine holding a sign saying he didn't sign up to fight on the same side as Al Qaeda.

c.    When has gasoline ever put out a fire?

d.    How does more violence really make a good case against violence?

e.    Doesn't an eye for an eye make the whole world blind?

f.    How does killing people teach people not to kill people?

g.    What makes chemical weapons worse than drones or missiles sent from ships?   All weapons kill people.

Messaging specifically for conservative Congresscritters

Press the buttons that are already there.  On the telephone no one can tell if you are a real tea party idiot or not. Appeal to their conservative mindset, no one knows how to kill any Obama sponsored legislation better than Republicans. The easiest way to get any resolution killed is to have the republicans kill it, they control the airwaves and always get more than equal time in all media. Let's use them.

1)    Demand that any resolution include budget offsets that pays for the adventure.

2)    Put an expiration date on any resolution.

Legislative Tricks

Load it up with amendments.

1)    Targeting the President (to force a veto)

a.    hell put defunding Obamacare in there.

b.    attaching a rider that effectively defunds the Affordable Care Act or gouges Social Security would ensure that the President stops it if it gets anywhere near his desk.

2)    Targeting the Republicans and Conservative Democrats:

a.     How about coupling it to an amendment enacting single payer health care?

b.     Attach a Federal gun registry mandate. Let's not have Dems attacking important safety-net programs, please.

i.    Premise:  If America is in so much danger, America needs to know where its military-grade weapons (ordinance) are being held, in case it needs to call up ordinary citizens for active defense of the country.  Therefore, National Gun Registry, to be completed and available to Federal State, and Local officials (including DHS) before any military action in Syria.

PR or How to Get the Messaging Out There

1)    Letters to the Editor using Powell Doctrine and Cost of War talking points

2)    Push on Twitter (same talking points)

3)    Blogathon at Daily Kos (ditto)

4)    FB or Reddit (ditto)

5)    Postcard campaign (ditto)

a.    They are physical mail that must be handled (not given auto-replies); everyone that handles them will see the message; as postcards (not envelopes) they'll get through safety-processing quicker.

b.    The text can be computer-printed on one side of 4x6 cards, with a little space for brief comment & signature; print sheets of labels for reps and attach.  Attach postage.

c.    Carry them with you everywhere and ask people if they'd like to tell their reps to vote no on Syria; if yes, hand them a card and ask them to write their name/address in return address spot and sign the back of the card.  Tell them you'll be glad to mail the card for them, or let them mail themselves if they're leery of giving someone their address.

6)    Fliers using postcard text for local businesses.

7)    'Burma Shave' signs, one Powell Doctrine item per sign with PD items in NO formulation

a.    This would mean that, for events, at least 8 people would be needed, one for each PD item.

8)    Projectors?

a.    On buildings easily seen on major thoroughways?

b.    More info on how to handle projected images:

i.    Any major urban street.that gets nighttime eyeballs over the stretch of a couple of minutes.  

ii.    If you broke it up into shorter elements, point by point in sequence (from the Powell Doctrine), people would most often encounter the elements in mid-stream.  With the numbers leading each line, they'd grasp that quickly and want to see the whole, so they'd be more or less transfixed until the whole thing scrolled through again.  If each line gets maybe ten seconds, it'll take a minute and a half to see the whole thing, a little longer to come mid-stream and wait for the whole thing in proper sequence.  

iii.    You need to think of where people have two minutes of more or less undistracted time to wait for it.  Once they see it, they will wait.A heavily-visited urban context, where people are hanging out at restaurants or shopping, would be ideal.

iv.    If you did projections, not signs, by a road, it should be a road where there'd not be too much danger from a distraction.  Private property would be best.  Imagine this projected on the side of a barn on a local highway leading into or out of a nighttime destination.

Website for help in producing materials, support for activists

 A 'landing page' with PD text & plan with URL on flier (but not on postcards, imo).

1)    Have formatted printout of flier available for download (pdf?)?
2)    Formatted text for postcard printing? (Or too many variables in people's equipment?  Or wold pdf take care of that?)
3)    Depending on website, could possibly have an 'I did this!' page for people to say, like, 'Distributed 15 postcards in (District); Put filers in 3 stores' etc.

Again, I'm sorry this is a rushed diary, but I now have less than an hour to get into presentable-to-Congressman-clothes and get to Rockville.

I hope this is a helpful resource to people. I would like it very much if people could check back in with diaries saying which actions they're doing and reporting on how they go!

Best to everyone.

1:43 PM PT: Here's a link for contacting Congress:

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