On Friday, at a rally for Senator Luther Strange in Alabama, President Trump strayed from Strange’s campaign to talk about what he sees as a great threat to the American flag: protests by athletes. In his long and rambling speech, Trump ranted, “Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, ‘Get that son of a b—- off the field right now. Out. He’s fired. He’s FIRED!” And he didn’t back down, later tweeting it “has nothing to with race” and lauding NASCAR for its refusal to “disrespect our Country or our Flag.” In response, athletes around the country fired back at Trump with their own tweets and even stronger demonstrations. Sunday Night Football brought images of united players, coaches, and staff kneeling or locking arms during the national anthem. Two singers of the national anthem even ended the song by kneeling in solidarity with the players.
This is not the first time the administration has imposed their views on private businesses, as Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders recently called for the firing of Jemele Hill from ESPN for speaking out against Trump. It is also not the first time the President has demonstrated his contempt for freedom of speech, as he has criticized participants of the Women’s March, as well as many other protests. His administration has attempted to silence federal workers and scientists by telling the EPA to remove mentions of climate change from its website and by keeping a ground-breaking climate change report secret. He told the National Park Service to stop tweeting pictures of the presidential inauguration, in an attempt to conceal the truth. And he’s constantly attacked the free press, a clear assault against the First Amendment. While he claims that he respects our country, he demonstrates a completely transparent disdain for this important American freedom – except when it suits him, such as when he defended his neo-Nazi supporters in Charlottesville. His dictatorial attacks on those who oppose him, particularly people of color, are consistent with the troubling assault on American values that we have been experiencing since he took office.
And let’s make one thing clear: these protests are not about the American flag. As one ABC News political analyst wrote, “Kneeling isn’t protesting the flag or anthem, as Rosa Parks wasn’t protesting public transportation, & Little Rock 9 public education.” Former 49ers star, Colin Kaepernick, who began the protests and is now blacklisted from the NFL, explained that his actions “[were] a protest over how the country treats black people and people of color.” Whether it’s the Muslim ban from President Trump or the long history of police brutality against African Americans, the list of injustices against people of color goes on and on. Athletes have just as much right as Trump’s rich donors to stand up (or kneel) and speak out against inequities in our country—in fact, recognizing our country isn’t perfect and working to make it better is in and of itself patriotic.
ACTION OF THE DAY
#ProtectOurCare. Graham-Cassidy will be on the Senate floor this week for consideration. This means we could only have a few days to stop Trumpcare (again)! Use our toolkit to call senators, and tell them to #VoteNo. Keep the phones ringing!
If you’re just catching up with the newest version of Trumpcare, learn about the bill’s impacts in the latest Thinking CAP podcast, with health care expert, Andy Slavitt. Share the graphic below with your social networks. Watch this moving video from ProgressNow Colorado about the devastating impact that Graham-Cassidy will have on people with disabilities who rely on Medicaid.And then, head to ResistanceNearMe.org to find events in your city that are happening this week!
Sham Hearing. Today, the Senate Finance Committee is hosting a hearing on the Graham-Cassidy bill, the latest (and worst) iteration of Trumpcare. New CAP research out today finds that at least 1.4 million Americans with disabilities would lose their Medicaid coverage if Graham-Cassidy is passed. And this number doesn’t even account for the cruel Medicaid per capita caps in the bill. As disability activists from National ADAPT and other organizations flood the US Capitol halls today to protest the bill, lawmakers will hear loud and clear that ending Medicaid as we know it would mean the loss of independence for millions of people with disabilities. The hearing today features six witnesses, including Senator Bill Cassidy, one of the co-sponsors of the bill, and Rick Santorum, the former Senator who has long been against the Affordable Care Act (ACA). With no CBO score and constantly changing drafts of the bill itself, this hearing is nothing more than show. Even without the CBO score, independent analyses show devastating impacts if Graham-Cassidy is passed on all Americans. You can watch the hearing live here.
Nothing New. Today, the White House announced an expanded travel (read: Muslim) ban, with new restrictions on travelers from Chad, Venezuela, and North Korea. These new additions appear to be an attempt to deflect criticism for exclusively targeting primarily Muslim countries. But very few North Koreans even travel to the United States, Chad is a majority Muslim country, and restrictions on Venezuela only affect a small number of government officials on certain visas. Despite Trump’s attempts to disguise the ban as a measure of national security, it’s impossible to divorce this third ban from the clear discriminatory intent of the first two.
#DreamAct. Today, Senator Thom Tillis and Senator Lankford will introduce what is being called a “conservative Dream Act,” which will offer a pathway to citizenship for the nearly one million Dreamers in this country. However, this will come at a cost. The pathway itself is expected to be long, include “extreme vetting,” and other disdainful provisions. But a solution for Dreamers, independent of any border security or other provisions, is extremely popular with the American people as over 85 percent of people support it. Now more than ever we need Congress to take a vote on a clean Dream Act–a bipartisan proposal– to fulfill the promises made to Dreamers and ensure they get a fair shot in our country. To urge members of Congress to pass a Dream Act without compromises, head to DreamActToolkit.org.
Double Standard. President Trump’s son-in-law and senior advisor, Jared Kushner, reportedly used a private email account to correspond with other administration officials about matters related to the White House. The account was set up during the transition in December, and was supposedly for Kushner’s own private use. But reports claim that emails sent using this account included exchanges with former Chief of Staff Reince Priebus, as well as former Chief Strategist Steve Bannon. This is not the first time that a member of the Trump administration has partaken in actions that they claimed to be criminal when committed by Secretary Hillary Clinton. In March, it was discovered that Vice President Mike Pence used a private email account to conduct official state business when he was Governor of Indiana. These revelations make it clear: there exists an extreme double standard.
Complete Devastation. The entire island of Puerto Rico is still without power, and many are without water. Meanwhile, President Trump is spending his time attacking athletes and cheering on NASCAR fans. Puerto Rico’s Governor, Ricardo Rossello, has requested assistance from the Pentagon to provide more search-and-rescue help and resources to help the island recover from the “complete devastation” of Hurricane Maria. Stand up and demand relief from Congress for our fellow Americans by signing your name to this petition. Looking for other ways to help? Here are a few more actions you can take.
Zombie Repeal. Graham-Cassidy is only one of many in a long line of disastrous versions of Trumpcare. Topher Spiro, vice president of health policy at the Center for American Progress, explains what the bill is and the impact it would have on Americans in the latest episode of Off-Kilter. Also tune in to hear about Michelle Jones, a woman who had her admission to Harvard University reversed after it was discovered she had a criminal record.
UNDER THE RADAR
Working Overtime. Today is the last day to send a letter to Department of Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta to fight the federal court’s decision to strike down an Obama-era overtime pay rule. The changes to overtime pay “would have raised wages for workers by $12 billion over the next 10 years, extended overtime protections to 4.2 million more Americans, and created new jobs.” If the rule is permanently stricken, the federally regulated overtime salary threshold will decrease from $47,476 to $23,660, making it easier for employers to deny millions of Americans the compensation they deserve.