Remember a few weeks ago when I wrote about our win in stopping the repeal and replacement of the Affordable Care Act for the American Health Care Act, a move that would’ve cost millions of Americans their coverage? Ha, well it turns out the House GOP was still looking to formally bury any pretense of morality or compassion by passing an even worse version of the AHCA last week – with all the problems of the first version PLUS the ability to allow insurance companies to deny coverage/raise rates to unaffordable levels for people with preexisting conditions. This week this series will focus on the now all-important healthcare battle about to begin in the Senate and the importance of those in the media who are still brave enough to speak truth to power.
Let’s start with the latter first. Until we know if Russian interference corrupted the election and if Donnie’s in violation of the Constitution’s Emoluments Clause, he’s an illegitimate president. Yet this man is making appointments, drafting executive orders, meeting dignitaries, and generally going about the business of governing. However journalists, by and large, are normalizing this and pulling their punches. Where are our modern Woodward and Bernstein? The only ones regularly willing to point out injustice and call it what it is are comedians – Stephen Colbert, John Oliver, Samantha Bee, Trevor Noah, Seth Myers, Jimmy Kimmel, and the like. We owe them a deep debt of gratitude for making us laugh during times of trouble AND for refusing to ignore the real dangers unfolding before our eyes in the name of some fallacious pursuit of being unbiased. It’s not biased to report the news. It’s journalism.
Last week, Stephen Colbert had a particularly brilliant monologue, firing back at the Orange Tyrant for his petulant, insulting actions towards CBS Face the Nation reporter John Dickerson during the official 100 Days interview. (I’ve included the monologue below.) In the wake of his biting remarks, some of Trumpy’s supporters said he was too crude and started #FireColbert on Twitter (people who, ironically, voted for a man who openly mocked a disabled reporter, bragged about grabbing women inappropriately, etc.). Despite being well within the purview of late night comedy, the Trump-appointed FCC chairman is investigating Colbert (while the WGA have vigorously thrown their support behind Colbert). This investigation is dangerous. It represents an obvious move at censoring and discrediting a popular voice that challenges and criticizes the Mad King Donnie. No one, I’d argue, in the late night set is as consistently critical of the Trump administration as Colbert nor does anyone else have as wide a reach. His ratings are ever-growing and his videos are trending regularly on YouTube. We need Stephen Colbert voice and vision now more than ever and, as a result, he’s getting some harassment.
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) The health care fight has moved to the Senate and we must make it clear to our senators, in no uncertain terms, that the new version of the AHCA – a bill opposed by the AMA, AARP, American Diabetes Association, March of Dimes, American Cancer Society, American Heart Association, American Lung Association, National Rural Health Association, National Organization for Rare Disorders, Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, American Thoracic Society, and the National Coalition for Women with Heart Disease to name a few – cannot be allowed to pass. We need to improve the Affordable Care Act or, even better, move to a true Single Payer/Universal Health Care system in this country. Please, please, please call your senators and let them know you oppose the AHCA and they must too.
2) The Senate hearings began yesterday (with a fantastic testimony by Sally Yates) to look into the degree to which Russian interference influenced the 2016 election. We need to call our senators and congressmen and women to let them know this can’t be ignored. We are going on, with business as usual, without any set awareness of how our government may’ve been manipulated by a hostile foreign power. This isn’t a liberal/conservative issue nor a Republican/Democrat issue. This is about whether or not we respect and believe in the Constitution and the United States of America. We need to make our senators and representatives know we support a nonpartisan, independent investigation into Trump, Russia, and Trump’s conflicts of interest.
3) H.R. 305: Presidential Tax Transparency Act – This act would force Trump to release his tax returns so we can finally see for certain whether or not he is profiting from his presidency and if he is in violation of the Emoluments Clause or not. Now, this is important because if Trump is in violation of this clause then he can’t be president as he’s in violation of the Constitution. We need to know this because we need to protect the Constitution above all else. So call your representatives and tell them they need to vote in favor of this act.
Speaking Truth To Power
This new section will highlight those who are daring to speak out against the corruption in our government. Sadly, given the way our media operates, we must turn to comedians to do the job journalists should do. Thankfully, we have these insightful, powerful voices – many trained by Jon Stewart over the years – to speak the truth.
1) Stephen Colbert addresses Trump’s executive order last week – a blatant move of religious discrimination and intolerance masquerading (poorly) as “religious liberty” on The Late Show:
2) Trevor Noah gives an impassioned critique of all the AHCA will cut and the dangers it presents to the most vulnerable Americas, outlining how all the GOP cares about is victory in legislation on The Daily Show:
3) John Oliver illustrates the importance of net neutrality and just what we stand to lose as the Trump Administration looks to roll back Obama Era protections for equal access to online information on Last Week Tonight:
1) Here’s a brilliant piece from The Atlantic where Van R. Newkirk II looks at how the prosperity gospel (or the idea that God blesses with wealth (as opposed to, you know, the actual Gospel where Jesus says we can’t serve two masters, God and wealth, and instructs us to sell everything we have and give it to the poor to follow him)) has shaped the GOP’s twisted vision at the core of the AHCA.
2) Maia Kobabe has put together this important and thoroughly researched historical comic strip titled “Strength Through Unity: How We Can Spot Fascism Before It’s Too Late” examining our modern political landscape through the eyes of history.
3) Lastly, here’s a deeply challenging theological piece, written by John Pavlovitz, where he wrestles with his Christian faith and the tension between Jesus’ call for us to be compassionate and the desire to see those who have turned their backs so completely on the poor and vulnerable held accountable by God for their actions.
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:
This Franciscan blessing is one of my favorite prayers and something I pray often. If we’re to truly give ourselves over to God to allow ourselves to be changed so we can then change the world with and through God, this is what we all need in our lives:
“May God bless you with discomfort at easy answers, half truths, and superficial relationships, so that you may live deep within your heart.
“May God bless you with anger at injustice, oppression and exploitation of people, so that you may work for justice, freedom and peace.
“May God bless you with tears to shed for those who suffer from pain, rejection, starvation, and war, so that you may reach out your hand to comfort them and turn their pain to joy.
“And may God bless you with enough foolishness to believe that you can make a difference in this world, so that you can do what others claim cannot be done.
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.
We’ll close with another clip from The Late Show with Stephen Colbert where Colbert addresses the party the White House threw to celebrate passing a bill in the House that will rob millions of coverage with “cases and cases of beer.” Yep, nothing says “Hey! We really don’t care about anyone that’s not us!” more than a kegger. Ugh…call your senators and your reps people. We have to remind them we the people will hold them accountable and they answer to us.