Okay, this post won’t be as lengthy as usual. To be honest, I’m still a little emotionally exhausted from all the late nights with the health care vote last week. But I didn’t want the series to drop off just because I was a little tired so here we go. 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.
Let’s start by talking a little about the Senate health care vote last week. Obviously the GOP tried to push their repeal and replace plan through and it failed. That’s great! We owe our thanks to Senators Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Susan Collins (R-ME), and John McCain (R-AZ) for being courageous enough to put the good of the American people above blind party loyalty and stand strong in the face of the bullying from Trump and McConnell. Because of these actions, and the Democrats they stood with, the American people don’t need to worry about their health care being taken from them.
However, we’ve seen this repeal and replace plan die and come back to life so often it’s starting to remind me of Michael Myers or Freddie Krueger or something. So we can’t rest on our laurels. Reach out to your senators. If they voted against this plan, thank them! (So often our reps only get calls of complaints (I mean their actions tend to warrant it buuuuut if there’s something good to say it’s nice to say it).) If they voted for it, let them know you’re aware of how carelessly they played with the lives of the American people. Let them know they owe you, and all of their constituents better. And let all the reps you call know, if they plan on talking about health care reform again it better be true reform that makes the Affordable Care Act stronger for the American people and it better be a bipartisan effort this time around.
On the bipartisan note, we have to be very, very careful moving forward that we don’t see this as some sort of war between Progressives and Conservatives or the Right and the Left or the Democrats and the Republicans. That’s the game the majority of the GOP has playing and look where it’s gotten us. Their sole motivating factor is trying to make themselves feel big again in the wake of losing to President Obama in 2008 and again in 2012. They have turned government into a larger game than it was before. For example, I’ve seen a lot of posts demonizing John McCain, saying he deserves no credit for the health care repeal failing. Okay, yes, there’s been a lot of things I’ve disagreed with John McCain on. BUT if he didn’t vote as he did, we’d’ve lost and millions of people would be losing their health care as a result of that vote. Do I agree with everything the man does or stands for? Of course not. But without him it wouldn’t have been a victory for us. And hopefully this moment can begin a walk back to some semblance of bipartisanship.
We need to be willing to look beyond our differences, stand strong when we need to, compromise when we can, and put the good of America first. We need to let our senators and representatives know we expect this of them too.
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) Congress is heading into its August recess, with neither the House nor the Senate in session until 5 September. However, that doesn’t mean we are to be silent. This means they won’t be voting but it also means they should be listening to constituents. Now’s a great time to call your representative and your senators and let them know what’s important to you and what they need to be focusing on. Just because they are on recess doesn’t mean they’re on vacation. Be loud! Whether it’s “thank you”s or reprimands, let them hear you. Remind them they work for you too.
These aren’t matters our reps will vote on directly but they are still important news we should be aware of:
1) If you click one link in this post, let it be this one. Michael Lewis penned this incredibly detailed piece for Vaniety Fair about the frightening level of disconnect between the Trump Administration and the Department of Energy. It shows how unaware the administration is and how unwilling they are to learn even the basics of governing. This is one of the scariest pictures yet of the Trump approach to “governing.”
2) While the health care victory was HUGE, the Trump Administration took some woefully discriminatory actions against the LGBTQ population last week. In one of his classic I’m-gonna-tweet-something-horrible-so-people-don’t-pay-attention-to-the-health-care-we’re-trying-to-rob-them-of moves, Donnie tweeted that he was banning trans people from serving in the military because the military “be burdened with the tremendous medical costs and disruption that transgender in the military would entail” despite them spending far more on Viagra than they do operations for trans soldiers.
3) Despite the classy move of tweeting discriminatory policy, “[T]he Joint Chiefs made clear that they stand on the side of keeping the services open to all, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity….Trump’s tweets announcing a ban on transgender service members and the Joint Chiefs’ refusal to change policy until it goes through the proper channels have made it difficult to know what will happen next for service members who have revealed their transgender status since the previous administration’s welcoming policy.”
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) Alex Jones (of Info Wars) is an excellent example of one of the major problems with the U.S. at the moment. There’s nothing factual about this man’s impassioned rants yet he takes people’s existing fears and prejudices, screams them back at them, and in turn validates their close-minded views as “news.” It’s gross. Thankfully John Oliver took Alex Jones to task on Last Week Tonight this week!
2) Last week, Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AL) was one of three decisive Republican votes that protected our health care system. Yay! Thank you Senator Murkowski! Here Stephen Colbert looks at the Trump approach to governing…which includes threatening an entire state if their senator doesn’t do what the Orange One wants.
3) On Full Frontal, Samantha Bee discusses the constantly growing and spreading web of corruption that ruins anyone remotely within in the orbit of the Big Trumpster…while he surprisingly (frustratingly, maddeningly, impossibly) remains free to do his thing.
4) Here Colbert talks more about how Trumpy seems to prefer totalitarianism and threats to, you know, actual government. Here we see him looking to replace Attorney General Jeff Sessions because he won’t make the Russian investigation go away and Robert Murdoch for doing his job.
5) Trevor Noah explores the Anthony Scaramucci interview that set into motion the firing of Reince Priebus (uh, I mean…the resigning of Prebius). But don’t get used to Scaramucci! He’s fired already.) He also underscores the dangerous waters Trumpy is stepping into if he continues to go after Jeff Sessions.
6) Stephen Colbert discusses Trump’s spontaneous (and discriminatory (and just plan mean)) ban on transgender people serving in the military.
1) Dr. Gene Beresin, executive director of The MGH Clay Center for Young Healthy Minds and a professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, wrote this excellent piece about the dangerous indoctrination the Orange Delivered with his speech to the Boy Scouts of America last week. He speaks of the dangerous psychological and emotional affects the speech would have on young boys aged eleven-to-eighteen. This article is as important as it is informative.
“The speech came in a particularly dangerous context: among a huge crowd of young boys, a captive and highly receptive audience that was particularly vulnerable to being influenced by the toxic traits the president consistently demonstrates: his insatiable desire to be adored, his demands for unconditional loyalty, his obsession with winning, and his need to devalue anyone he perceives as a threat….The big deal is that Trump’s speech smacked of indoctrination. It had the potential to capture the developmentally normal aspirations of young boys and teenagers to idealize a “successful hero,” and band together for his mission of winning, of defying adversity. But then it subverted those natural aspirations, toward all the issues listed above.“
2) Thomas Kaplan wrote this piece for The New York Times looking at five lessons the health care vote taught us; 1) the process matters, 2) Trumpy was no help, 3) Bullying isn’t effective, 4) the abortion debate didn’t make things easier, and 5) a slim majority has its limits. It’s a short yet thoughtful look at where we are now and what me may need to be cognizant of going forward.
3) Slate offered this article exploring how Trump’s seen the Boy Scouts, Joint Chiefs of Staff, and many police departments need to “Last week, in two appalling speeches and one ghastly tweet, President Trump crossed rhetorical lines so unconscionable that they triggered rebukes and apologies from historically apolitical institutions: the Boy Scouts of America, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and police departments around the country. The language in the various disclaimers was tepid, especially by our current Mooch-like standards, but their very existence feels like the tremors leading up to a potential earthquake….Is the story here that three venerable institutions, over the course of five business days, had to apologize to their members and the public for the conduct of a president as if he had drunkenly pawed every guest at a cocktail party the night before? Or is the story that they’re finally feeling emboldened enough to do so?”
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:
We had an important victory last week with the health care vote. However, we can’t rest. We can’t believe the fight for better health care is over nor can we believe our struggle for a just society is over. We need perseverance and we need to remember what we’re fighting to build. In that spirit, I offer the USCCB’s to “Help Us Build Communities In God’s Vision Of Justice”:
We praise and thank you!
You anoint us to
bring glad tidings to the poor
proclaim liberty to captives
recover sight for the blind
free the oppressed
and build communities in keeping
with God’s vision of justice.
Show us how to be
light of the world
salt of the earth
seeds that sprout love
and leaven that infuses humanity
with the desire to promote
human dignity and solidarity.
Help us to listen so that
those in poverty can lead our efforts to
proclaim a more hopeful vision
liberate captives from injustice
heal the blindness of the powerful
free us all from self-centeredness
and build community to overcome poverty.
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.
That’s all I’ve got. I know I normally have something else down here but, like I said above, I’m still pretty emotionally exhausted from last week. So, because we’ve all earned a little break, here’s Fozzie Bear singing 50 Cent c/o isthishowyougoviral on YouTube. Let’s be honest, we all need this.