Nothing say “spooky” like indictments, gun violence, and tax cuts right?? I had originally planned a fun post about…I don’t know, maybe things that scare me for today. But then yesterday happened. Muller! Manafort! Papadopoulos! I figured there was lots to organize and try to make sense of so this may be a more helpful use of my time. 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.
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) Alright, I know that everyone is talking about Mueller and the indictments from yesterday – and lots of information on that is found below – but we can’t lose sight of the things we can influence while we focus on the legal system doing its job. So let’s look at the GOP’s attempt to pass a major tax overhaul as part of their 2018 budget. The New York Times clearly outlines exactly where Republicans are at with their budget and how they are looking to move forward with it. “The [Senate approving the budget resolution for 2018] sets the stage for what could be a wild ride of tax debate over the next few months, which Republican leaders hope will end with President Trump signing a bill into law by Christmas. The big question is whether their ambitions can survive a winding road of hearings and votes.”
This timeline is especially dangerous given a) how quickly they’re looking to move and b) who would be hurt by this budget. Here’s a brilliant piece, short but very informative, by David Akadjian outlining how misleading the language about the tax cuts is. It also explains, in clear language, how tax cuts for the rich hurt everyone else.
So the GOP is looking to get their budget passed before Christmas (because as Charles Dickens made very clear in A Christmas Carol nothing says “Merry Christmas!” like letting the poor struggle and die in the name of wealth – that was the point right?) so, if this bothers you, then make some noise. Call your senators. Call your rep. Let them know how you feel about this proposed budget and the cuts they’ve designed to profit the few at the expense of the many.
2) It’s been one month since the mass shooting in Las Vegas – the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history – and nothing has happened. “With congressional Republicans focused on tax reform for the foreseeable future, and given their inability to offer little more than ‘thoughts and prayers’ in the wake of a mass shooting, the push for a legislative ban on bump stocks is likely dead entirely.” THIS IS NOT OKAY.
The National Rifle Association continues to win this game, reveling in their idolatrous and erotic love of weapons of death, because a) they are focused in their message, b) they call their representatives all the time, and c) they show up at their reps’ offices again and again (and again). If we want to honestly bring in sensible gun reform that the majority of the country actually supports – things like the above mentioned ban on bump stocks (which make semi-automatic weapons function like machine guns) or strengthening universal background checks for all gun purchases (something both gun owners and the general public agree on) – then we must be as relentlessly vocal too.
In regard to these mass shootings former Fox “News” Host Bill O’Reilly went as far as to say, “This is the price of freedom. Violent nuts are allowed to roam free until they do damage, no matter how threatening they are. The 2nd Amendment is clear that Americans have a right to arm themselves for protection. Even the loons.” First, that’s not what the Second Amendment guarantees. It guarantees the right to bear arms to a well regulated militia. We no longer have state militias. We have the National Guard. So the Second Amendment guarantees your right to bear arms if you are in the military.
Second, as the fourth principle of Catholic Social Teaching states, our rights are limited only by our responsibility to others. So even if this idolatrous love of death-dealing instruments was what the Framers intended (spoiler alert: it wasn’t) we’d still have to revisit it. We can’t pretend human lives are worth less than a random amendment (that we intentionally take out of context) or that we needn’t consider regulating a right that is costing so many lives each year.
These aren’t matters our reps will vote on directly but they are still important news we should be aware of:
1) Okay…so a lot went down yesterday with the Mueller investigation. Admittedly, it got a little hard to keep track of at times. So here’s a brilliantly thorough piece from Rolling Stone giving you all the basics you need to know. It talks about what’s been going on with Mueller’s investigation, what happened yesterday specifically, and it explores much of what Trump, his administration, and the GOP have been doing (and may do) to undermine the investigation. It’s a great piece for a detailed snapshot of what’s going on.
2) Similarly, George Papadopoulos was in the news a lot yesterday. The Washington Post offers this very helpful timeline outlining Papadopoulos’s work with the Trump campaign and his connection to and work with various Russian representatives.
“George Papadopoulos, identified in March 2016 as an adviser to the Trump campaign during an interview with The Washington Post, admitted to having provided false statements to the FBI about his interactions with individuals tied to the Russian government….According to a document unsealed by the FBI on Monday, Papadopoulos admits to having been contacted by Russian agents shortly after being identified as a campaign adviser, contacts that continued for months. After being arrested in July, he then meets with authorities multiple times to answer questions, details revealed only once the Manafort indictment is made public.”
3) Vanity Fair offered this easy outline of just what exactly Paul Manafort and Rick Gates were charged with. “[They were] indicted on 12 counts: conspiracy against the United States, conspiracy to launder money, failure to register as a foreign agent, false and misleading statements related to that registration, false statements, and seven counts of improper foreign banking and financial reporting….While the charges do not appear to be connected to Russian collusion, as special counsel, Mueller has a broad mandate to prosecute any criminal activity stemming from his investigation. Manafort, who was forced to resign from the Trump campaign in August 2016 amid allegations of financial impropriety in Ukraine, has also been tied to Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska, a billionaire with close ties to the Kremlin.”
4) Also happening yesterday, and unrelated to Mueller’s investigation, a federal judge blocked Trump’s ban on transgender people serving in the military. As reported by The New York Times, “A United States District Court judge on Monday blocked a White House policy barring military service by transgender troops, noting that the policy did not appear to be based on facts, but instead on ‘a desire to express disapproval of transgender people generally.’ ”
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) Desi Lydic explores Trump’s (totes obviously) presidential, eloquent, and (dare we say…) regal use of Twitter on The Daily Show.
2) Stephen Colbert looks at how wonderful Trump’s taking credit for the release of the JFK Files…given the fact that they’ve been scheduled to be released for, oh you know, twenty five years.
3) You know the environment? Yeah, that thing we live in and are responsible for caring for because if we don’t everyone and everything will die. Well it turns out EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt is every bit as horrible at that job as we expected him to be. Thankfully Samantha Bee took him to task on Full Frontal.
4) On Last Week Tonight, John Oliver explores the danger flooding continues to pose to the United States. He also looks at the troublesome way the U.S. is prepared to deal with floods and how this is a problem we must figure out how to deal with because it will only get worse with climate change.
5) Stephen Colbert looks at some of the tension in the GOP as Senator Bob Corker (R-TN) and Senator Jeff Flake (R-AZ) go head-to-head with Trumpy both in spoken words and on Twitter.
1) A disturbing new study shows that White Evangelical Protestants have become far more likely to forgive a president’s immorality. While President Obama was in office, 30% of White Evangelical Protestants said they would forgive a president’s immoral actions but, since Trump’s taken office, that number has jumped to 72% who say they would forgive it. This hurts me deeply…especially as someone who’s faith is the central part of their worldview. As Christians, we are called to be in this world but not of it. We can’t allow immorality because the party we identify is in power. That’s clearly putting party before God, faith, and mission.
2) Are you interested in what the people who have already resigned from the Trump administration have to say about him? What stories could they tell? Well you are in luck. This piece from Raw Story offers just that.
3) Because we need something lighter to end on, when our Orange Pumpkin-in-Chief hosted some Trick-Or-Treaters at the White House this past weekend he told them, “I cannot believe the media produced such beautiful children. How the media did this, I don’t know. So how does the press treat you? I bet you get treated better by the press than anyone in the world.” He also commended them by saying, “You have no weight problems. That’s the good news. Right?” This…this is the world we’re living in people. Hahaha, WOW. I can’t make this stuff up.
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:
Here’s a prayer from Education for Justice on finding solidarity. Really, so much of our problems in this world come from our inability to see our connection to one another, to see a family created by God with one need as opposed to our needs versus the needs of the other. In the name of solidarity I pray:
Our world is large, and yet the global community is so fragile. We glimpse the needs of our sisters and brothers, and those needs are great. We want to turn away, but you call us back. We want simple solutions, but you want us to help solve the complex problems. Through your Church, you call us to listen, to learn, to reflect and to act. Give us a deep sense of our place in this web of Creation. Give us the wisdom of mind and generosity of heart to seek your will in the world today. Inspire us to respond to the call to live in solidarity with impoverished countries of the world, so that all children of God might live in dignity and peace.
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.