Alright, it’s been a little while since I wrote a new entry for this series. However, life certainly hasn’t been quiet. We’ve got a needless tax cut for the über wealthy to discuss as well as an epistemological crisis in this country, the state of our checks and balances, Russian collusion, and more. So let’s get to it! 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.
If you watch/read nothing else in this piece you need to watch this incredible clip from Last Week Tonight with John Oliver. Looking back at the last year, John Oliver brilliantly lays out the very real dangers flowing out of Trump’s behaviors in the White House and what he has been normalizing in our political process. But, after showing us the danger and the darkness, he grounds us in some of the hopeful victories we’ve had in the last year too. With the year anniversary of the election still in our rear view mirrors, this is a clip that shows us why we need to stay informed and active as well as showing us we can win some when we do.
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) Soooo…this tax cut thing huh? The GOP’s tax cut, which will see lower-income American’s taxes go up in 2021, passed the House last week with only thirteen Republicans (and all Democrats) voting against it. Now this blatant (and disastrous) move to let the super rich keep getting richer at the expense of literally everyone else is moving to the Senate.
As if giving more money to the obscenely wealthy for no reason wasn’t enough, the Senate has decided to resurrect the Let’s-Kill-the-ACA-so-People-Lose-Healthcare Zombie again by “includ[ing] the repeal of the Affordable Care Act’s requirement that most people have health insurance into the sprawling tax rewrite, merging the fight over health care with the high-stakes effort to cut taxes.”
And it isn’t even a good idea economically! As Forbes has reported, “If it’s enacted, the GOP tax cut now working its way through Congress will be the start of a decades-long economic policy disaster unlike any other that has occurred in American history. There’s no economic justification whatsoever for a tax cut at this time. U.S. GDP is growing, unemployment is close to 4 percent (below what is commonly considered ‘full employment’), corporate profits are at record levels and stock markets are soaring. It makes no sense to add any federal government-induced stimulus to all this private sector-caused economic activity, let alone a tax cut as big as this one…..In other words, the GOP tax bill may be enacted without anyone who votes for it having any understanding of the damage it could do to the economy. They have wishes, hopes and prayers but in reality nothing beyond the economic equivalent of pagan superstition.
“On top of everything else, there is no reason to rush this debate as the GOP is doing. Given that it’s not really needed, a bill that is enacted next January or February will make as much economic sense as one signed into law by the end of this December. The must-do-it-by-Christmas deadline Trump has imposed is completely artificial and nonsensical.”
Presently, the Senate is looking to vote on their version of the bill (to give trillions of dollars in tax cuts to those who don’t need it at the expense of everyone else while also robbing millions of coverage in a move guaranteed by the American Medical Association to cause premiums to rise) as soon as the week after Thanksgiving.
To be direct, we can’t let this happen. They’ve come for our health care before and we’ve stopped them before. Now we have to do it again. And it’s not just health care at risk this time! It’s the financial stability of this country too. So call your senators, visit their local offices, and do it again and again and again. Take your family and friends. Be present, be vocal, and BE LOUD. Let’s let them know this is unacceptable.
2) The battle for net neutrality is on again too. FCC chairman Ajit Pai is looking to release the news of his attack on net neutrality – a move with near-universal opposition among Americans outside of those motivated by information control and corporate profits – over Thanksgiving weekend so it’s lost in the news. We can’t let this slip by and we have to be vocal here. He’s looking to have the FCC vote on this by 15 Dec.
What is net neutrality and why is it important? Well, “Net neutrality is the concept that the internet should be an even playing field. Whether it’s your cousin’s blog or Google, net neutrality proponents argue all data should flow the same, meaning no particular persons or companies can be favored by the networks on which the data flows. That keeps big companies from paying for preferential treatment.
“This is how the internet has generally operated, but as more services move online, concerns have grown that internet service providers will want to start charging for better access. Net neutrality supporters argue that this would turn the internet into a pay-to-play world, hampering innovations and leaving people to the whims of major companies. ”
Obviously, we can’t let this happen. So please harangue Mr. Pai on Twitter and let him know how morally bankrupt this idea is. Be loud about your opposition! While Pai doesn’t have to answer to us directly, he does have to answer to Congress. So call your reps and let them know you want them to not even vote on this proposal. They can reject it outright.
These aren’t matters our reps will vote on directly but they are still important news we should be aware of:
1) The Atlantic has offered this sobering and unnerving piece on how Trump has been battling any checks and balances to his power since entering the White House. “What is disturbing in these stories—all of which came to light in the course of a single week!—is the possibility that senior federal officials have been strong-armed by either White House officials or the president himself into making decisions based on the president’s political interests—with very significant consequences in the realms of national security, press freedoms, and American citizenship”
2) Here’s a piece looking at the correspondence/connection between Don Jr. and WikiLeaks. “The messages, obtained by The Atlantic, were also turned over by Trump Jr.’s lawyers to congressional investigators. They are part of a long—and largely one-sided—correspondence between WikiLeaks and the president’s son that continued until at least July 2017. The messages show WikiLeaks, a radical transparency organization that the American intelligence community believes was chosen by the Russian government to disseminate the information it had hacked, actively soliciting Trump Jr.’s cooperation.”
3) Remember the struggle of the Standing Rock Sioux against the Keystone Access Pipeline? Hmmm…I wonder why people thought the pipeline was such a bad idea again? Nothing says “Careful Stewardship of Creation” like spilling 210,000 gallons of oil all over northeast South Dakota.
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) Samantha Bee looks at Roy Moore’s refusal to drop out of his senatorial race in Alabama, despite the allegations of child molestation brought against him…and the people who still support him despite this?? She addresses the wave of charges of sexual misconduct against those in government as well as those in the entertainment industry and reminds us all of our responsibility to speak out and hold people accountable for their actions.
2) Trevor Noah outlines how the Republican Party has politicized the issue of sexual misconduct to make it about partisan politics and not the actual crime. It’s a wonderfully slimy approach to let sexual predators off the hook because you’re putting party above all else. Thank you The Daily Show, this is exactly why we need you. He also shines a light on the heartbreaking hypocrisy of the religious right in accepting this sort of behavior of they like the party of the perpetrator.
3) Remember when Trump solved the whole Russian collusion thing by asking Putin whether or not he meddled in the election? Then he took the most diplomatic approach possible with Kim Jung-Un…by acting like a sullen and pouty fourteen-year-old? Thankfully so does Stephen Colbert and he covered it all for us on The Late Show.
4) Stephen Colbert also shows us just how hilarious Rep. Louie Gohmert’s (R-TX) attempts to discredit Robert Mueller (in an attempt to protect Trump from…you know, the law) are. Then he even goes a step further to outline the ties we’ve seen so far between Trump and Russian, as only Stephen Colbert can. Thanks Stephen!
5) On The Daily Show, Trevor Noah outlines how Trump’s economic decisions thus far into his presidency have hurt American industry and American workers in favor of great benefits for China. China has even begun to use Trump in pro-communism ads as proof democracy doesn’t work!
6) Looking at the accusations of groping that were leveled at Al Frankin, Trevor Noah discusses how pervasive this problem is. “At all levels, at all levels, we men have been complicit in perpetuating the culture that devalues women. I don’t care who you are – Democrat, Republican, black, white, rich, poor. Men.”
7) Attorney General Jeff Sessions was called before the House Judiciary Committee to testify on George Papadopoulos and collusion between the Trump Campaign and Russia. Obviously, because he’s a great legal mind, he totally remembered nothing and answered “I don’t recall” over twenty times. But let’s let Stephen sort it out for us shall we?
1) If you only click one link to read only one piece in this post, let it be this one. This article explores the epistemological crisis we’re battling in American right now by posing the question – What if Mueller finds Trump guilty of collusion with Russia and it doesn’t matter? It’s an important, challenging piece.
“The US is experiencing a deep epistemic breach, a split not just in what we value or want, but in who we trust, how we come to know things, and what we believe we know — what we believe exists, is true, has happened and is happening. The primary source of this breach, to make a long story short, is the US conservative movement’s rejection of the mainstream institutions devoted to gathering and disseminating knowledge (journalism, science, the academy) — the ones society has appointed as referees in matters of factual dispute”
2) Here’s an opinion piece from The Guardian putting the current state of American politics in perspective. By comparing what Trump’s already done with what Nixon was going to be impeached for/resigned over…Nixon looks like a fairly upstanding human being. Yep…that’s where we are now.
“But time plays tricks, and more than 40 years on Nixon’s crimes don’t seem quite so bad as they once did. If all President Trump had done was a bit of recreational bugging no one would bat an eyelid – Trump would just shrug the whole thing off in a couple of late-night tweets. The bar for standards in public office is now so low that even allegations of collaborating with the Russians to fix an election are not apparently grounds for possible impeachment”
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:
With Advent right around the corner and the new Liturgical Year about to begin (okay, so I’m a few weeks early), I thought this prayer for justice from the USCCB would be appropriate.
in this preparation for Christmas, now at hand,
the Church’s prayer for the fulfillment of the hopes
of peace, salvation and justice which the world today urgently needs
become more intense.
Let us ask God
to grant that violence be overcome by the power of love,
that opposition give way to reconciliation
and that the desire to oppress be transformed
into the desire for forgiveness, justice and peace…
May peace be in our hearts
so that they are open to the action of God’s grace…
May all members of the family community,
especially children, the elderly, the weakest,
feel the warmth of this feast,
and may it extend subsequently to all the days in the year.
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, so I’m putting this clip at the bottom again too. If you didn’t watch this little year-in-review/look at how important our collected action is by John Oliver, then you need to. So here’s another chance! If you did watch it above…sorry. The end of the post has kind of let you down. But still! Don’t forget the power of our collective voice!!!