Despite the craziness with new Russian reveals (and there is a lot of it) and the ever-constant fight to protect health care, I took last week off in honor of my birthday. But we’re back this week…and we must keep it up. As usual, this 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. 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.
As we’ll discuss more below, Mitch McConnell has delayed the Senate’s vote on repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act. It was supposed to happen this week but is being pushed off until perhaps the first week in August. However we must remain vigilant. While the continuing revelations of the increasing depth of the Trump camp’s ties to the Russian government continue to stun us we must remember, if we let up our guard on health care people will die. We must be aware of Russia and we mustn’t normalize a hostile foreign nation’s meddling directly in our politics nor members of Trump’s team willingly breaking the law in the service of victory in a campaign. However, that battle will be led by Mueller and his team. We must keep the fight for the ACA alive.
With that, I’ll leave it to the Beatles to inspire us – as prophetic now as ever. Here’s “Revolution,” continuing to show us how we fight and why we fight nearly fifty years after its release.
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) Better Care Reconciliation Act (BCRA) – This is still the big fight. I don’t want to just go over everything we went over last week but it’s important that we’re all informed on how this will hurt Americans, especially those most in need of help. So, here are some quick links if you’d like to know more. We can’t let up the heat on this!
NPR outlines with beautiful detail how the BCRA stacks up against the ACA and the AHCA. Spoiler alert, it gives the most money to the wealthy at the expense of the most amount of Americans.
The American Medical Association rejects it. The American Psychological Association rejects it. The AARP rejects. The American Academy of Pediatrics, American College of Physicians, American Lung Association, American Heart Association, the March of Dimes, and American Hospital Association have come out against it as well. The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops has also denounced it.
2) S.18: Fair Tax Act – this act would eliminate Income and Payroll Tax in favor of a National Sales Tax. While the GOP is trying to sell this as “just” it’s another way to marginalize and disproportionately harm the poor while benefiting the wealthy and corporations. This is as sinful as it is shameful. Be sure to call your senators and let them know what you think about this.
These aren’t matters our reps will vote on directly but they are still important news we should be aware of:
1) Soooo obviously the big news last week was Donnie Jr. tweeting out his emails showing he knowingly took a meeting with a representative from the Russian government that wanted to aid their campaign against Hillary. This, perhaps more than anything else we’ve seen so far, underscores how absurd a world we’re living in. This is as direct a link we’ve seen established so far not just between the Trump camp and Russia, but between the Trump camp and treason. Yet Donnie Jr. freely shared it with the world. Soooo…to recap, Donnie Jr. tweeted his own emails proving he knowingly sought damaging information the Russian government might have on Hillary during the campaign? He tweeted proof of collusion? This happened? This is the world we live in now? I have a headache…
2) NPR offered this helpful annotated guide to the emails, if you’re looking for clarity on who the players are and what specific connections they all have to Trump and the Russian government.
3) The Atlantic provides this excellent analysis of the implications of the latest information about Russian collusion. “Trump Jr.’s decision to release the full emails, after previously lying about his discussions…provides the most solid evidence yet that members of the Trump campaign’s inner orbit were ready and willing to collude with the Russian government, and it proves that the Trump campaign knew that the Kremlin supported Trump’s campaign against Hillary Clinton….some experts believe there is already enough evidence to prosecute him for a federal crime, and campaign veterans deny that this in any way resembles standard operating procedure.”
4) After John McCain announced he’d be out this week due to surgery, Mitch McConnell announced that the Senate would “work on legislative items and nominations, and will defer consideration of the Better Care Act.” Now, on the one hand, this is good news. The Senate knows they don’t have enough votes to go ahead. This will be close so they are tabling it for now. On the other hand, this evil action will be close when it comes to a vote. This means we CANNOT LET UP calling our senators. Please, please make time to do this at least once a week if not several times a week. The GOP moves quickly and unpredictably at times. We can’t let up. This is too important.
5) Congress doesn’t seem to have anything to say about the F-35 fighter just budget jumping by $27 billion even though, “a weapons program so fraught with failures is allowed to receive such outlandish funding when lawmakers—mostly Republicans, but also many Democrats—continue to argue that the nation is ‘too broke’ to increase spending on social programs that improve education or healthcare.” Yep, sure, fighter jets are more important than education and health care. Nothing morally bankrupt going on here.
Speaking Truth To Power
This section highlights 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) If you watch one clip on this post, make it this one. Stephen Colbert proves yet again why he’s the best as he explains the absurdity and importance of what happened with Donnie Jr.
2) Trevor Noah continues our descent into the absurd as he shows how Fox News “News-Adjacent-Smoke-Machine” tries to sell the idea that there’s nothing wrong with Donnie Jr. meeting with the U.S.’s single largest geopolitical rival in the name of winning a campaign.
3) More on Russia and Donnie Jr. from The Daily Show.
4) Of course there’s more than collusions going on. Stephen Colbert reminds us that, in addition to the growing number of people tied to Trump and Russia, Trump’s also an @$$ abroad as he objectifies Brigitte Marcon in France.
1) Here’s an excellent piece by Joe Scarborough from The Washington Post. In it he discusses the fall of the Republican Party and how he’s been forced to leave the party as their current actions make it impossible to defend or support. He also offers insightful historical analysis about how the current state of affairs most likely marks the end of the Democrat/Republican duopoly that’s held sway in American politics for centuries.
“America’s first Republican president reportedly said, ‘Nearly all men can stand adversity. But if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.’ The current Republican president and the party he controls were granted monopoly power over Washington in November and already find themselves spectacularly failing Abraham Lincoln’s character exam…. The GOP president questioned America’s constitutional system of checks and balances. Republican leaders said nothing. He echoed Stalin and Mao by calling the free press ‘the enemy of the people.’ Republican leaders were silent. And as the commander in chief insulted allies while embracing autocratic thugs, Republicans who spent a decade supporting wars of choice remained quiet….Last week’s Russia revelations show just how shamelessly Republican lawmakers will stand by a longtime Democrat who switched parties after the promotion of a racist theory about Barack Obama gave him standing in Lincoln’s once-proud party. Neither Lincoln, William Buckley nor Ronald Reagan would recognize this movement.”
2) On a similar note, here’s a piece by Bob Schneider from Chicago Now outlining why he, as a lifelong Republican who’s family’s been connected to the party since it started in Illinois in the mid-1850’s, has changed his party offiliation over the last year from Republican to Independent to Democrat. It’s both moving and telling as you see his struggle not just with changing parties but with seeing the Republican Party abandon the values he’s shared and championed his entire life.
He writes, “I spoke with a relative who is still solid GOP and he acknowledged all my concerns as being factual. He asked me to stay in the party and fight for its soul. There is nothing left to fight for. His comment about a soul was interesting. That is the problem with the GOP. It has lost its soul. It has no compassion, it has no empathy, it is just a collection of self-centered individuals who care about nothing outside of their own lives. There is not a bigger picture, there is only self-absorption with the GOP.”
3) On the three year anniversary of Eric Garner’s death, Sojourners offers this challenging piece looking back at all we’ve learned – good and bad – with the Black Lives Matter movement, and all we still need to accomplish.
4) In a fantastic example of being the Church, Catholic nuns in Pennsylvania have built a chapel on their property to stop the construction of a gas pipeline and do their part as stewards of creation.
5) I want to end where we began, with health care. Despite how men like Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan consistently act, this is not a game. This isn’t an attempt to score political points or spite your opponents. This is a literal matter of life and death. This Politico piece explores some of the reasons how/why the Republican efforts to repeal and replace have faltered (uh, maybe because it’s a vile, inhuman piece of legislation?) and reminds us that, although it’s tabled for now, it isn’t going anywhere. Please, please, please keep the pressure on. Call your senators. Call everyone you know and ask them to call their senators too.
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 I struggle with how health care legislation that hurts so many can get so far through our legislative process or how treasonous actions can be accepted/defended/normalized or how all the absurdity we see in the world around us can become a regular part of life, I’ve been praying the USCCB’s Prayer to Overcome Indifference. As much now, as ever, this is what we need:
All too often, Lord, we turn away from the world’s many problems,
which seem too big, too complex, or too far away.
Forgive us our indifference.
It is easier, Lord, to see only what is around us:
our lives, our homes, our challenges.
Forgive us our isolation.
Help us to see with your eyes:
eyes which notice one another
and help us understand.
Help us to dream your dream:
of communities that reach out and dialogue
and where diverse people creatively cooperate.
Help us to be people of solidarity and action,
so moved by prayer, encounter, and understanding
that peace can become a reality.
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.
Okay, I know I featured the Beatles above and I’m closing with a John Lennon solo song but c’este la vie. This is how the spirit’s moved me. Here’s a little “Working Class Hero” to light the fire under us. The system is designed to keep the many oppressed with power and wealth in the hands of the few. But John Lennon calls us to pick up the standard and fight against all that oppression in solidarity with all…