What’s American Anyways?

In the past week, we saw the resurrection and death of another GOP healthcare bill, as well as massive failures across the board for the Trump administration in terms of focus and constructive action.

One obvious example of the discord is yet another social media war launched by the President, with tweets railing against the NFL. The rising political consciousness of athletes has been  assailed since former quarterback Colin Kaepernick  began a peaceful on-field protest a year ago. Some of the loftier discussions involve definitions of what constitutes patriotism. The Trumpbots advocate blind allegiance to tradition, with minimal consideration of different sociopolitical experiences of our country. Others view Kapernick’s kneeling as an expression of First Amendment rights designed to advocate change.

What does it mean to be American? The saying goes that actions speak louder than words, and the public and the office of President have been tested to back up their patriotism – with trial by fire, rain and torrential winds. Hurricanes, earthquakes and other disasters have recently devastated states, territories, and communities.

Trump and his America have failed to be inclusive in their support of crisis operations. In the aftermath of hurricanes Harvey and Irma, Texas is slowly on the path to recovery and the Florida Keys are opening up next week for tourism, despite 25 percent of homes being destroyed. News of progress has been muted, eclipsed by other trending topics, including the devastation of non-mainland American territories.

Texas and Florida have electricity and supplies. Puerto Rico does not. It took nearly a whole week for public outcry to turn into a collective roar, demanding that Donald Trump and his administration take action, rather than ignore the increased degradation of daily life for Puerto Ricans.

I’m sure your social media, news feeds and offline conversations have been filled with both NFL news and hurricane updates. But we need more media clarity regarding exactly who is being most negatively affected by the indifference: those whose skin tone is not found on the same color swatch as Mr. Trump (although in fairness, there aren’t many orange people).

It’s no secret that America has a race and “othering” problem. This administration is attacking sexual assault victims, non-christian religions, and pre-emptively filing waivers for the Jones Act in areas that support Trump and house his default residence.  Meanwhile, leadership held off on filing for a ravaged area full of brown people.

It’s time to hold authorities responsible and accountable for their lethal biases. People are dying from inaction and insufficient support. To be American isn’t a complexion, blind obedience to a ritual or speaking Midwestern English. Americanism used to mean welcoming and protecting freedoms, taking care of our citizens in times of crisis. It’s a shame that the occupant of the nation’s highest office needs constant reminders.

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Social Media’s Voice in Politics

As Harvey and Katrina recede and a new hurricane builds strength, our eyes turn to the damage these catastrophic storms have caused. News sources have Key West taking the brunt of Irma’s force in America, while damage abounds in the Caribbean.

As we focus on recovery, ugly politics seem unavoidable. In Tampa last week, Trump was given the opportunity to walk back his Charlottesville comments. Instead he doubled down, continuing to ignorantly and equally cast blame on white supremacists and the protesting opposition.

This followed the White House’s admonishment of ESPN journalist Jemele Hill, which underscored the the traditional divide between government reach and personal opinions. Censoring the media and skirting the First Amendment seems to be the new norm. We see this in the administration’s preference for conservative white journalists – another break with accepted, multi-voiced tradition. This pandering to white media fosters an environment where police departments can continue to escalate racial divisions among private citizens. Posting “all lives splatter” content on September 11th assaulted public sensitivity and attempted to invalidate a legitimate statement of equality and equity. 

This media divisions the Trump administration is sowing also highlights the role that Facebook had in swaying the 2016 election. We now know that $100,000 paid for ads on the social channel, with the buys coming from fake Russian accounts. Facebook also allowed similarly targeted ads with anti-Semitic content to be posted as recently as this month, as well as a fake housing ad that excluded specific minorities.

With evidence mounting regarding a highly suspect 2016 Presidential election, little progress or forward motion in identifying and punishing state actors has been seen.

And despite last week’s “Will they or won’t they?” drama between the President and “Chuck and Nancy,” Trump has not confirmed his commitment to DACA. GOP leaders seem poised to shoot down any efforts to protect Dreamers in legislative form.

The conversations that Trump is having with top Democrats are dividing the GOP and hard-line Trump supporters (like living monster Ann Coulter), prompting Trump to broadcast supposed alignment on tax reform. We’ll wait and see..

With bifurcation across the board, it seems likely that the ongoing N.A.F.T.A. talks are headed for a similarly uncertain fate.  Mexican opinion of America is at an all-time low after an embarrassingly long wait for “The Donald” to reach out to Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto. POTUS waited a week after the country’s 8.1 magnitude earthquake to express condolences and an offer of help.

Which way do the Trump winds blow? I think that’s exactly what the President wants us to keep asking. By keeping politicians and the people guessing, he keeps himself trending on social media – and that’s power in his warped mind.

Eye of the Storm

The past few weeks have been a madhouse of large-scale emergencies all over the country.

A brief update from my last post: our world leaders and police still need supervision. But Officer Jeff Payne was fired from his part-time paramedic gig following retaliatory remarks made against Nurse Wubbels. He attempted to arrest her in July for failing to illegally providing a patient blood sample.

Moving on…Hurricane Harvey was the first major event of its kind to devastate the United states since Wilma in 2005. We had just a few days to grapple with that disaster before Hurricane Irma came along –  fatter and faster than Harvey, and currently wreaking havoc on the state of Florida. Both storms are historic and have left communities grappling with prevention and recovery. Scientists say we are in the middle of an active hurricane period which began roughly in 1995, when water temperatures began to rise due to global warming.

Click the hyperlink for an independently compiled list of charities working to provide relief to victims of Hurricane Harvey. Similar links for Hurricane Irma will follow in a later post.

A little bit of good news from last week: The House passed Trump’s deal with Dem brass (“Nancy and Chuck”) to allocate $7.4 billion to FEMA. A follow-up vote from the Senate increased the aid package to $15 billion, with four Texans voting against the plan (note: these politicians are from parts of the state currently unaffected by Hurricane Harvey). The maneuvers also allowed an increase in the debt ceiling, and avoided a government shutdown – until December anyway.

With many Republicans opposed to the debt ceiling extension, we have to wonder why Trump chose this path. Was it an attempt to seek favor in light of fervent public opposition to the repeal of DACA?  A big “eff you” to GOP leaders with whom the President is already at odds? Or is Trump actually concerned for the Americans who’ve been devastated by natural disaster? We have our doubts about the latter.

It’s worth noting that immigration debates sank candidate John McCain, and also created intra-party headaches for former President George W. Bush.  Is Trump enjoying tangling with a GOP that is splintering under leadership dissent? A man who boldly demanded a wall to keep immigrants out of the country is now throwing DACA over to Congress. What gives?

More updates on hurricanes, FEMA, and DACA in my next post.