I can’t believe I’m writing about health care again. I really can’t. I feel a weariness in me each time I see the GOP’s moving again to steal people’s coverage, leaving so many to die. But we’ve fought this fight and won before. So we have to marshal our voices and do it again. There’s also the DREAMERS Act of 2017, the United Nations, tensions with North Korea… 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.
Jimmy Kimmel has become one of the leading voices in the continuing health care battle in this country, often using his monologue on Jimmy Kimmel Live! to address these life-or-death issues. And we are all the better for his voice! Most recently he’s turned his attention to the new (and deadly) Graham-Cassidy Health Care Bill. This is a much watch piece if you haven’t seen it already.
“At the end of my monologue last night I encouraged people who care about the subject to call their senators and let them know they care. I even gave out a phone number. Now this video of the monologue has millions and millions of views. It was all over the news. A lot of people have seen it and shared it but The New York Times today contacted the office of Susan Collins, who’s one of the key senators on this, and they claimed at her office that the call volume she got was the same as usual. And if that is true, this is why things like this keep happening – because we don’t do anything about them. So please stop texting for five seconds and make a phone call.”
He goes on to explain, in detail, the large number of medical organizations that oppose this bill.
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) Siiiiiigh…this health care thing just won’t die. The GOP has defined themselves for so long by this one idea – repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act – that they have no idea how to operate outside of this directive. They keep coming back to try and rip away people’s health care, sacrificing the most poor and vulnerable in our society as they do it, just to get rid of something President Obama did. Each version of the health care bill the propose gets worse and worse, as is the case with the Graham-Cassidy Health Care Bill. NPR has put together a short yet detailed piece on the biggest dangers inherent in this bill.
Now, last week we got very good news as Senator John McCain (R-AZ) once again stood with compassion and wisdom against something that was wrought with evil. McCain, Senator Rand Paul (R-KY), and Senator Susan Collins (R-ME) have all said they’d vote against the Graham-Cassidy Health Care Bill which would leave the repeal and replace effort DOA once again. However this isn’t over until 30 September. There is still time for pressure and corruption to try its hand. So let me echo Jimmy Kimmel’s words above. Please, please, please, please call your senators. If they oppose this bill, let them know you’re with them and thank them. If they support it, remind them of the value of human life over political games.
If I’m being honest, the constant disregard for human life, especially in regard to something as basic as health care is trying. I think of how easily I could be unable to afford my insulin and blood sugar supplies if my work situation changed. And I think of all those who aren’t as blessed as I am right now. I can’t believe we have to keep having this fight again and again. But we do. So we do what we have to. We’ve stopped this before. We can do it again. Call. Keep calling. Please. All it takes is a few minutes and people’s lives depend on it.
2) The struggle for Dreamers in the wake of Trump’s decision to end DACA continues. However, Trump met with Democratic leaders to discuss working together, pairing the DREAM Act 2017 with border policies he’s looking to implement. In exchange for the Democrats backing tougher border security and an increase in drones (but no funding for that wall), Trump would support this DREAM Act which would “grant a conditional green card to all current DACA recipients, unless they have voided the terms of their permits, and create a system for similar young undocumented immigrants brought to the US as children to also obtain conditional green cards. Eventually, if the requirements of the bill are met, those individuals could apply for permanent residency and potentially citizenship.
The bill would apply to undocumented immigrants brought to the US when they were under the age of 18, who have lived continuously in the US for four years prior to the bill being passed, who have no serious criminal record other than immigration violations and have earned a high school diploma or equivalent or are enrolled in school. The immigrants would need to pass a background check and maintain their clean record.”
There has been some tension over the potential agreement, as seen when House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) discussed the DREAM Act at an event in San Francisco where protestors, identifying as undocumented youths themselves, rushed the stage saying they were not to be used as bargaining chips, that they wanted a “clean DREAM ACT” (meaning it’s free of any tie to border policy), and asking where her voice was when the Obama Administration deported an unprecedented number of
Here is a brilliant, exhaustively researched piece on DACA, its importance, and what we can do to protect it. Please, take a moment to give this a read and then get on the phone. We need to make sure our elected representatives understand, as with health care, human lives are more important than arbitrary political points. These Dreamers are human beings who are enriching our country. It is time to speak up and stand with and for them.
These aren’t matters our reps will vote on directly but they are still important news we should be aware of:
1) As all the craziness spins out of control in all directions around us, it’s easy to forget how close we may be to actual nuclear war. Now, I’m not trying to be alarmist and we’ve been here before. Thankfully in the 1960’s we had J.F.K.’s steady hand watching over the Cuban Missile Crisis. Now we have Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un throwing threats back and forth around the United Nations.
While Trump calls Kim Jong Un, “Little Rocket Man,” and tweets, “Just heard Foreign Minister of North Korea speak at U.N. If he echoes thoughts of Little Rocket Man, they won’t be around much longer!,” we see just as attack-heavy rhetorics from North Korea. “‘We are waiting for the right time to have a final battle with the US, the evil empire, and to remove the US from the world,’ KCNA quoted Ri Il-bae, a commanding officer of the Red Guards, as saying. ‘Once respected Supreme commander Kim Jong-ungives an order, we will annihilate the group of aggressors.’ In an unprecedented statement on Friday, Mr Kim described Mr Trump as a ‘mentally deranged dotard’ whom he would tame with fire. He said North Korea would consider the ‘highest level of hard-line countermeasure in history’ against the United States and that Mr Trump’s comments had confirmed his nuclear programme was ‘the correct path.'”
2) The Orange One condemned NFL players who, following Colin Kaepernick’s lead, refuse to stand for the National Anthem. He called out the owners of those teams, saying these players should be fired for disrespecting the flag and the country. Obviously, no one understands consistent actions that blatantly disrespect all America is supposed to stand for like Donald Trump. But, just below the surface of his ire, we see his comments carry even more problematic implications for racial relations in our country.
Speaking of the inherent danger in Trump’s comments, CNN’s Editor-at-large Chris Cillizza writes, “I’ve long believed that Trump is simply saying whatever comes to mind, that there is no broader strategy to his comments. But it’s impossible to conclude that after Charlottesville, Trump is totally ignorant of the racial context in which his remarks on the NFL and NBA land. No one is that oblivious. When, given all the water under the bridge — both in terms of our country’s history and the more narrow history of Trump’s campaign — you make comments about how the athletes in predominantly black pro sports leagues should just be happy with what they have and not complain, you aren’t doing it by accident. You really believe it. Play football or basketball so we can be entertained, Trump seems to be telling these athletes. No one wants to hear your lack of gratitude for what you’ve been given. There’s so many things wrong with that view. First of all, no one gave these players anything. They worked for it. Second, just because you are a professional athlete doesn’t mean you don’t get to be a citizen, too. We don’t tell accountants, for example, that they can’t express their opinions on politics and the culture more broadly, right? So why should we be in the business of telling professional athletes? And would Trump feel the same way if the majority of those protesting the anthem were white?”
3) The EPA’s head (I still can’t believe he got the job…) Scott Pruitt, met with Tom Collier, CEO of Pebble Limited Partnership on 1 May before deciding to rescind an Obama Era policy that protects the watershed of Bristol Bay, an ecologically valuable wetland in southwest Alaska, from certain mining activities. Opening the area to mining will cause “irreversible” losses. On the plus side, it’s another clear indication that we’ll happily throw out God’s command to be stewards of all of creation in favor the worshiping the idol and false god that is Wealth. So that’s nice……ugh.
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) On The Daily Show, Trevor Noah examines Steve Bannon’s 60 Minutes interview and shines a light on how Bannon confirmed all of our worst fears about him. Spoiler Alert: He’s a racist @$$hole who selectively chooses his history to sell his hateful narrative.
2) Stephen Colbert looks at the tension in the Trump Administration over how much their lawyers should assist Robert Mueller’s investigation into how much they’ve colluded with Russia. The Late Show piece also looks into the wire tapping the FBI conducted with Trump campaign head Paul Manafort, before and after the election.
3) Trumpy also addressed the United Nations last week…annnnnnd he did it with just about as much class, eloquence, intelligence and grace as you’d expect. It’s easier to digest the news when Colbert’s delivering it.
4) On Full Frontal, Samantha Bee looks at General John Kelly’s attempt to manage the shit show that is the Trump White House. That poor, poor guy. Who…who could even begin to handle a job like that? God bless him for trying. And give the guy strength.
5) Samantha Bee sent Allana Harkin and Michael Rubens to Netroots to see what hope the Democrats have in the future. Because, despite the GOP’s constant assault on human rights and human dignity, the DNC still can’t deliver a consistent or inspiring message.
6) Trevor Noah explains the ethnic cleansing happening in Myanmar as Buddhists target Rohingya Muslims for eradication.
1) Ta-Nehisi Coates’ recent piece in The Atlantic, “The First White President: The foundation of Donald Trump’s presidency is the negation of Barack Obama’s legacy,” is a revealing look at how race affected Trump’s rise and continues to fuel his administration. It’s a longer piece but it’s insight is sobering. If there’s one link in here that gets the “MUST READ” tag, it’s this one.
“To Trump, whiteness is neither notional nor symbolic but is the very core of his power. In this, Trump is not singular. But whereas his forebears carried whiteness like an ancestral talisman, Trump cracked the glowing amulet open, releasing its eldritch energies. The repercussions are striking: Trump is the first president to have served in no public capacity before ascending to his perch. But more telling, Trump is also the first president to have publicly affirmed that his daughter is a ‘piece of ass.’ The mind seizes trying to imagine a black man extolling the virtues of sexual assault on tape (‘When you’re a star, they let you do it’), fending off multiple accusations of such assaults, immersed in multiple lawsuits for allegedly fraudulent business dealings, exhorting his followers to violence, and then strolling into the White House. But that is the point of white supremacy—to ensure that that which all others achieve with maximal effort, white people (particularly white men) achieve with minimal qualification. Barack Obama delivered to black people the hoary message that if they work twice as hard as white people, anything is possible. But Trump’s counter is persuasive: Work half as hard as black people, and even more is possible.”
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:
Given our topics this week, the USCCB’s Prayer for Basic Rights seems appropriate:
Lord of Wisdom, awaken us
to our duty to care for the basic needs of all people.
Strengthen with hope
people denied their human rights and freedoms.
Provide us all with the voice to cry out
for justice for the poor and the oppressed.
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 opened with health care (…again, ugh) so we’ll close with DACA and The Dreamer Act. All I can say about this clip from Full Frontal is YES, YES, YES! Samantha Bee nails it. The lies, the agenda, the disregard for human lives and the willing ignorance over how DACA works is all laid bare.