I am ANGRY this week. My righteous fire has cooled a bit since Friday but I’m still angry. This last week has seen an egregious attack on our health care system which could leave many without life saving coverage AND the most direct and reprehensible attack against the environment I’ve ever seen in my lifetime. But I’m channeling my righteous anger into something productive. I ask you to do the same. All of this has yet to be voted on. All of this can be stopped if we raise our voices, united. Without further ado, this weekly series aims to a) help us stay informed on the events unfolding in America and b) urge readers to add their voice to the chorus calling out for justice.
Trump and what’s-become-of-the-GOP are swinging so fast, at so many targets, it’s overwhelming. It’s an intentional distraction technique too. If they attack everything we can’t possibly fight it all. But we can’t rest! We can’t let this practically dangerous and morally bankrupt train keep rolling. We must let the country and the world know what we value and what we will fight for. We must loudly proclaim who we are and who we want to be. We must be aware. We must be vocal. We must be active. We must be loving. This is how we will triumph and how we will transform our lives, our nation, and our world.
Like the prophets of old we must refuse to back down. We indict those who need to be indicted. We speak truth to power and we cry out for justice for those being robbed of it. With that fiery prophetic tradition in mind – and my righteous anger burning from the news – I’m featuring Rage Against the Machine this week. I love “Take The Power Back.” In fact, every time my representatives ignore the voices of the people to curry favor with the Orange Tyrant, I crank it and sing along to feel better. “Ignorance has taken over / Yo, we gotta take the power back! / The rage is relentless / We need a movement with a quickness / You are the witness of change / And to counteract / We gotta take the power back.”
Here’s what’s coming up that we need to talk to our representatives about or call/email/mail other people in government/power. Note, whenever possible, have the bill number of the issue you’re calling about ready to share with the staffer who answers the phone.
1) H.R.861 – THEY ARE TRYING TO TERMINATE THE EPA! I’m 100% serious. Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL-1) introduced a bill last week to terminate the Environmental Protection Agency. ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME?!? I don’t even have words for how dangerous and insane this is. The bill’s before the House right now. Please, please, please call your congressional representatives. Call them daily. Be loud. Be direct. Say this is UNTHINKABLE. Under the Mad King Donnie’s guidance, they may be willing to forsake the earth in the name of fast, dirty, soulless profit but we aren’t.
2) The Senate Republicans have begun to outline their plans to replace the Affordable Care Act. And are you ready for this? THEY ARE COMING FOR OUR HEALTH CARE AT THE EXPENSE OF THE POOR. The proposed plan “would substantially cut funding for states in providing free insurance to low-income adults through Medicaid. And it would change how tax credits are distributed by giving all Americans not covered through work a flat credit by age, regardless of income….It’s a simpler, potentially cheaper plan than Obamacare. But it’s far less generous to the poor, and unlikely to provide the health insurance for ‘everybody’ that President Trump envisions….It’s hard to know precisely how many people would lose coverage under this proposal because it’s missing some numbers. But similar tax credit plans from House Speaker Paul Ryan and Tom Price, the new secretary of health and human services, would result in millions losing coverage, according to independent estimates.” Call your senators and TELL THEM THIS CANNOT BE CONSIDERED. It is unacceptable to play with people’s health and safety to make a fucking political point out of snubbing Obama and to allow fucking corporations to profit at the expense of the poor and sick.
Our cry has to be more coverage for more people for less cost to the individual or no repealing of the Affordable Care Act. As a Type One Diabetic who has been denied coverage for a preexisting condition WE CANNOT LET THIS HAPPEN. People will die and that is inexcusable.
3) The revisions in the House are no better as they are seeking to gut Medicaid. “The ensuing system, then, would no longer be a safety-net entitlement for all people who need care, but one where many of the riskiest patients with the most pressing issues might simply be forced to do without. That’s a strong departure from the underlying logic of the program, outlined when President Lyndon Johnson railed against ‘the injustice which denies the miracle of healing to the old and to the poor’ when he signed the amendment to the Social Security Act, which gave the country Medicare and Medicaid in 1965.” Call your congressional representatives and tell them THIS CANNOT BE CONSIDERED. Our cry has to be more coverage for more people for less cost to the individual or no repealing of the Affordable Care Act. Again, as a Type One Diabetic who has been denied coverage for a preexisting condition WE CANNOT LET THIS HAPPEN. People will die and that is inexcusable.
4) If you are reading this and live in Pennsylvania, there are thankfully people working in our state legislature who are trying to get us a single payer health care system in PA that would provide “a true comprehensive universal health care system for every citizen of Pennsylvania…[that] provides coverage for all PA residents, allows you to choose your own doctor, and eliminates co-pays, deductibles or fees.” Please call your state reps. We have to fight for this. This is literally a matter of life or death. This is not a game.
5) Twenty-three cowardly, power-hungry, favor-seeking House Republicans are blocking the motion that would force Trump to release his tax documents which would prove whether or not he is in violation of the Constitution’s Emoluments Clause and show whether or not he has an unethical business ties with Russia or countries in the Middle East that weren’t part of his initial ban. To be clear, this isn’t a liberal/conservative issue. It isn’t a Democrat/Republican thing. This is do you believe in and honor the Constitution of the United States of America or not? The spineless pieces of corruption who so voted, of which my own representative Mike Kelly (R-PA-3) is one, have chosen loyalty to and favor with Trump over protecting the Constitution. His office is now hearing from me daily, if not twice daily. Check the list, do the same! Let your representatives know his tax documents must be released.
6) Michael Flynn stepped down as National Security Advisor thanks to his potentially treasonous actions in releasing privileged information to Russia. However, it is both naive and dangerous to believe it stops with Flynn. There is indications that more members of Trump’s team (if not Trump and Pence themselves) have been communicating with Russia in dangerous and illegal ways. This investigation must proceed and it must be prosecuted with vigor.
These aren’t matters our reps will vote on directly but they are still important news we should be aware of:
1) In the good news category, THE RESISTANCE IS GROWING. Even in Red States, we are seeing more and more people rise up to demonstrate and call their representatives to oppose the corrupt and dangerous agenda the Trump administration is advocating. Sensible, compassionate Republicans and conservatives are just as concerned about this as progressive Democrats. This is about justice and defending the Constitution and the country from increasing tyranny. This isn’t about Democrats/Republicans.
2) Andy Puzder withdrew his name from consideration to be the Secretary of Labor. In the “good news” column, this keeps yet another of Agent Orange’s highly unqualified billionaire sycophants from taking another Cabinet position. However, in the “realistic break down of the news” column, it wasn’t because the Senate had the courage to reject the increasingly despotic whims of Trumpy. Rather, amid personal scandal and the chance of not being confirmed, he withdrew. It’s a victory, yes. But not entirely because Congress is enacting the will of the people.
3) The Southern Poverty Law Center released this disturbing map tracking the rise of hate groups and hate crimes in America. Again, the rhetoric and policies of this administration and all those who still support it has consequences. It’s not magic nor a coincidence that hate groups and hate crimes are on a steady rise in the U.S. There are 917 hate groups presently operating in the U.S. right now. THIS IS NOT OKAY.
4) News also broke on Friday that the White House was considering using 100,000 National Guard troops to round up illegal immigrants. To be fair, Sean Spicer denied that this was true (always comforting as he’s a paragon of virtue). But the implications of even considering using the military to hunt immigrants, round them up, check their documentation, and forcibly deport those who don’t have it is heinous. Yes, mass deportations happened under Obama. Yes, they happened under Bush. Yes, they were just as hideously, immorally wrong then. But the scale of this idea – and the consideration of using the military to do so – is frightening. If you’d care to see the horrifying memo for yourself, here it is.
4) During his insane rant and rave filled press conference, Trump joked about “shoot[ing] that [Russian] ship that’s 30 miles offshore right out of the water.” No, to be fair, he wasn’t suggesting doing so. But he was joking about what would be a literal act of war. He then eloquently added, “So when you ask me what am I going to do with a ship, the Russian ship as an example, I’m not going to tell you. But hopefully, I won’t have to do anything, but I’m not going to tell you.”
5) Mad King Donnie has also filed for reelection. This means, among other things, that he can a) hold campaign rallies where he can more tightly screen out those who would protest his message, b) get the adulation of cheering crowds he’s seemed to become dangerously hooked on from the campaign, and c) make money in the form of campaign donations from the sale of his merch. So he totally held a campaign rally in Florida on Saturday because…why not? Why worry about a little thing like running the country when people can chant your name at you?
1) Pope Francis has called activists to fight for social justice, refuse to deny climate science and protect the earth, stand by migrants, and realize there is no such thing as “Islamic terrorism.” Yes! Amen.
2) This piece from The Atlantic is helpful and timely as it considers the questions of “whether these activists can avoid burnout, expand their ranks, and convince lawmakers to take their concerns seriously.” As the fight goes on we need to do all of the above. How do we expand our ranks? How do we make certain we are taken seriously? And how do we take the time to rest ourselves? We do no one any good if we burn out and have nothing left in the tank to fight the good fight.
3) In a beautiful example of the church being the church, a Unitarian Church in Denver offers sanctuary to a woman who needs it despite being harassed by calls damning and haranguing the church.
4) Here’s a wonderfully detailed piece explaining U.S. relations in the Middle East and with Islam, our complicity in creating the troubles that now plague us, and an honest awareness of the problem that can help us move foreward.
Now I turn to my faith, Jesus, scripture, and those who have followed those messages best to remind myself why I fight, how I fight, and who I fight for:
As opposed to sharing a quote or scripture passage, I want to offer a short reflection this week. Yesterday the Gospel reading at Mass was an excerpt from the Sermon on the Mount. In it, Jesus called his followers to unconditional love which included, but was not limited to, love of enemies. Through all of the Gospel we see unconditional love of all is the foundation of the Kingdom of God and Jesus’ mission and message. To paraphrase Jesus, if we only love those we like/it’s easy to love we’ve done nothing the worst people in human history haven’t done themselves. Rather, we are called to love everyone unconditionally. That…is difficult. If it wasn’t, we’d be living in the Kingdom of God right now. But Jesus doesn’t ask us to take the easy road. Rather, we are to travel through the Narrow Gate.
So as I reflected (and more importantly prayed) about all that I was angry about – the anger and frustration that is evident in the above post – I kept trying to figure out how to love those who are casually talking about breaking our health care system or let the environment burn down around us in the name of profit. I don’t know how. I don’t have an easy answer. Thankfully, I can say loving and liking aren’t the same thing. As Billy Joel so accurately sings, “You may love ’em forever but you won’t like ’em all of the time.”
Love doesn’t mean we aren’t upset. Love doesn’t mean we aren’t filled with righteous anger at injustice and callous action. Love doesn’t mean we accept the way things are. But love does me we separate the sin from the sinner and realize, deep down, Trump and those who are supporting his mad machinations are deeply broken people. On that, we can find some common ground as we’re all broken in our own way. The GOP is being perverted by the lust for power, a dangerous drug. And Trump…I sincerely feel bad for the man and his fragile, damaged ego. However, at the same time, he’s such a wild threat the our country and the world that we can’t ignore what he’s doing. In all honesty, it can’t be easy to live inside his head, with his emotional instability and insecurities. I do believe he is in rough shape. That can’t feel good. But he got the job. He has to learn how to do it. And we have to hold him responsible.
The battle for justice is only just beginning. Join the Resistance! Give it all you have! I encourage anyone interested in helping speak out about and challenge the injustices growing around us to do so. If you’d like, reach out to me in the comments or message me on Twitter. You’re certainly welcome to send me news you’d like to see included! I am only one person and, as such, have a finite ability to track these things. If you happen to be a blogger or vlogger yourself, you’re also welcome to take what I post in these weekly calls to action and share it on your own site too if you feel so called. But, most of all, I hope you’ll take advantage of the direct link that is in this post and all the posts to follow to call – and keep calling – your representatives. Democracy works if we participate. Love will triumph if we have faith. We can’t give up our belief in those principles or we’ve already lost the struggle.
Now, to keep the fire lit and the blood pumping as we go out to call our representatives and work for justice here’s one more Rage Against The Machine song. Raise your fists, raise your voices, and let’s all cathartically sing a long, “Fight the war, fuck the norm / Now I got no patience / So sick of complacence / with the D E F I A N C E / The mind of a revolutionary.” Yep, nothing gets the ire out like screaming along to a little Rage :).