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President Trump joked about a bugle call that is customarily part of the armed forces’ time-honored tradition of showing respect. The bugle call occurred during Trump’s interview with Fox News.

“What a nice sound that is. Are they playing that for you or for me?” Trump exclaimed. “They’re playing that in honor of his (Hannity’s) ratings.”

Weeks ago, Trump furthered the NFL–U.S. Flag debate when stating, “That’s (kneeling) a total disrespect of our heritage. That’s a total disrespect of everything that we stand for,” Trump said, encouraging NFL owners to smack-down unruly players.

Trump almost make it sound as if the U.S. Flag is a person.  Accordingly, everyone must be reminded that our nation’s flag is not a person. As such, the flag owns no heritage. Rather, our nation’s flag is meant to be a symbolic representation of American values. And like everything in our live, our nation’s values are shrouded in strengths and weaknesses.

The Supreme Court has found laws banning desecration of the American flag to be unconstitutional. The court ruled that it falls under the First Amendment protection of free speech in the Constitution. Despite this, the majority of states continue to have desecration laws on the books. Yet none will prosecute anyone for it.

Trump has no intention of prosecuting people who kneel during the National Anthem. Trump already knows flag desecration is not against the law. By highlighting NFL players kneeling, Trump reminds people of those who died in national service and aligns their emotions to something deeply offensive. This sentiment represents his constituents popular view. In highlighting an act of kneeling, Trump highlights a “moral crime” his constituents find angry. He’ll then walk away and let the common anger of self-righteousness flame emotions and parlay this vision into a windfall of ideological hate.

So then why continue to parlay the “flag disrespect” ideology? Perhaps because Trump’s point is to suppress the communication of ideas. For Trump, falsity is easier to accept and the acceptance of his opinion often has little to do with truth itself. In essence, for Trump, “truth” is not absolute. Accordingly, almost everything contradicting his view may well be considered a “clear and present danger.” Likewise, the majority of Trump supporters adopt some version of the “clear and present danger” mentality. Need an example? Trump’s 2016 “… war on Christmas” scenario. Need another? NFL Players kneeling disrespects the flag.

Throughout my years of travel, I’ve seen many things done to America’s flag. Most of them involve obscenities, stomping and burning. These acts occur both here in the United States and world over. None of them resulted in America weeping? I never saw the Statue of Liberty crying when I returned home. Nor have I seen people wailing in the streets of middle America. Nope. Not once.

However, if we take Trump’s at his word, “…that the U.S. Flag (and ideals) must not be disrespected,” then I have a few questions.

  • One in five children in New York City are food insecure. How does hunger in America impact the desecration of America and how does your war on NFL Players kneeling help reduce this problem?
  • In the past six-months, you’ve celebrated proposed radical shifts healthcare insurance that would expose tens of millions to lack of quality healthcare and deepen healthcare inequality. Can you please explain how this is not a form of desecration to American values and how does your war on NFL Players kneeling help reduce this problem?
  • While terminating healthcare subsidies, Energy Secretary Rick Perry defended a controversial proposal to subsidize coal and nuclear power plants. The argument is that because coal and nuclear power can’t compete with cheaper (and cleaner) sources of power, they need to be subsidized. Can you please explain how removing healthcare subsidies while simultaneously providing subsidies to an ever-changing energy market is not a form of desecration to American values and how does your war on NFL Players kneeling help reduce this problem?
  • Desperate Puerto Ricans are said to be drinking water from potentially toxic superfund sites. Does desecration of American ideals occur only within the continental U.S and how does your war on NFL Players kneeling help reduce this problem?

I doubt we’ll get any answers.

Trump predictably got a standing ovation from the hundreds of people at the annual Values Voter Summit. Ovations included remarks for the flag, God and Israel. The “war on Christmas” theme has proven politically potent for years on the right, stocked by conservative media including Trump’s favorite, Fox News.

The President insists he’s simply standing up for the flag. But the flag is not a person. The flag, in and of itself, feels no pain. All Trump is doing is stoking culture wars.

At the end of the day, Trump’s decision to embroil the NFL in politics will reshape the NFL experience for millions. And for those needing a job, searching for someone to care for a sick child or drinking water from a toxic superfund landfill, you’re pretty much screwed.

But hey, at least the our U.S. Flag is not being disrespected. Right? Right!

Prior to the Congressional Baseball Game in June, Nationals Park in Washington, D.C., players on both the Democrat and Republican teams gathered at second base for a moment of silence and prayer. Likewise, after the Las Vegas shooting, President Trump and Vice President Pence held a moment of silence at the White House. Then both NFL teams held a moment of silence prior to last night’s ‘Monday Night Football“‘ battle. Last, but not least, let’s not forget to mention the New York Stock Exchange, Dancing With the Stars, the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives, equally providing their own ‘moment of silence.’ There’s probably been tons of “moments” during the last several days, but nothing more.

These ‘moments’ are ritualized and repeated. I envision the conversation of legislative leaders. “Oh! Another shooting. Pull the ‘Moment of Silence’ card from the rolladeck.” Read instructions.

  1. Acknowledge how saddened you are;
  2. Tweet your prayers and love to affected family and friends;
  3. Hold a moment of silence, preferably in public (looks more humble);
  4. Say it’s too soon to discuss meaningful gun law changes while the nation heals; and
  5. Do nothing.

Look at the Pulse Nightclub, Virginia Tech, Newtown, Luby’s Cafeteria, San Ysidro, San Bernardino, Fort Hood, Columbine, Las Vegas, etc, etc, etc. Same card. Same instructions. In fact, I believe the card gets so worn out that the government printing office presses new ones every other year.

Moments’ are the best anyone can expect. However, for the dead, they get lots of moments … damned eternal moments.

However, have an NFL football player kneel during the National Anthem and all hell will break loose. Get the President to rip kneeling NFL players in fiery speeches to an all republican crowd, call fans to boycott and demand NFL owners get those sons of bitches off the field. Ensure fans publicly denounce players, with some calling for their heads.

And victims of gun violence? Silence. Need meaningful gun legislative leadership? Silence.

Why?

It’s About Mathematics

In the 2016 election, National Rifle Association spent a stupendous $54.4 million, almost all of it in “independent expenditures,” meaning spending for or against a candidate but not a direct contribution to a campaign. The money went almost entirely to Republicans to a degree that almost looks like a misprint (but isn’t): Democrats received only $265.

Who are the top ten recipients?

  • Ryan, Paul
  • Young, Don
  • Johnson, Ron
  • Cornyn, John
  • Thune, John
  • Toomey, Pat
  • Paul, Rand
  • Sessions, Pete
  • Rubio, Marco
  • Blunt, Roy

The NRA endowed the 54 senators who voted in 2015 against a measure prohibiting people on the government’s terrorist watch list from buying guns with $37 million in support. The NRA also gave $27 million in direct and indirect support to 50 senators who voted against a bill to require universal background checks for firearms purchases.

Sadly, the Las Vegas victims were on the wrong end of legislative mathematics. If the 59 Las Vegas victims had given $54 million in campaign contributions, another $37 million in direct and indirect support, and $27 million in other support, we’d have meaningful gun legislation. But Las Vegas victims didn’t donate $118 million. They were shot.

Until we change the mathematics, someone living today will become the next victim in the next mass shooting. In the meantime, let’s make sure NFL owners fire those “sons of bitches” (as Trump would say) NFL players for being disrespectful to the United States Flag. Surely, we wouldn’t want America to be disgraced on national television.

After all, we have priorities. What’s yours?

Puerto RicoCNN writer Eric Levenson wrote, “Almost a week since Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico, the US recovery efforts there have been markedly different from the recovery efforts after Hurricane Harvey in Texas and Irma in Florida. Fewer FEMA personnel are in place. Grassroots donations from fellow Americans are much smaller. The US territory still remains without power. And President Donald Trump has yet to visit.

Levenson noted the response effort.

  • Hurricane Harvey: For Hurricane Harvey, FEMA had supplies and personnel positioned in Texas before the storm made landfall on August 25.
  • Hurricane Irma: Even more federal personnel responded to Hurricane Irma when it made landfall in Florida on September 10.
  • Hurricane Maria: By comparison, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands have seen much fewer personnel since Hurricane Maria hit, according to FEMA.

Trump stated hurricane relief to Puerto Rico and Virgin Islands were hampered due to the fact of the large, big, huge ocean … water all around. Water water everywhere. Taking to Twitter, Trump noted the island’s political leaders can’t get their own people to help.

“... Such poor leadership ability by the Mayor of San Juan, and others in Puerto Rico, who are not able to get their workers to help …. want everything to be done for them when it should be a community effort. 10,000 Federal workers now on Island doing a fantastic job.

In reality, the current administration’s use of assistance comes to simple mathematics. If you reside in an area needed by the administration, you are in luck. If you reside outside that geopolitical need, you’re screwed.

A Hard Truth

The total population of Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont equals roughly 3.2 million. And the population of Puerto Rico? Approximately 3.4 million. Now if Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont were hit by a major hurricane, Trump’s administration would respond immediately.

So why not for Puerto Rico or the Virgin Islands?

It’s all about voting rights. At the end of the day, voting rights of United States citizens in Puerto Rico, like the voting rights of residents of other United States territories, do not have voting representation in the United States Congress and are not entitled to electoral votes for President. In each Presidential election, Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont have a combined 11 electoral votes. Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands have zero. Texas has 38 and Florida has 29. If you’re an American President seeking reelection, you don’t shaft Texas or Florida.

However, if Trump shafts Puerto Rico and Virgin Islands, there’s no lasting political repercussion. Trump can call Puerto Ricans lazy, overstate relief efforts such as “… all buildings have been inspected and this is a great news story.

Here’s another Trump tidbit.

“We have done a great job with the almost impossible situation in Puerto Rico,” Trump said. “Outside of the Fake News or politically motivated ingrates … people are now starting to recognize the amazing work that has been done by FEMA and our great Military.”

Basically, Puerto Rico can die a slow death and nothing will happen. The greater US may be horrified. We’ll “Tsk! Tsk!” at the water-cooler. But truth be told, most won’t care and neither will many legislators. However, if we’re called by Christian or Buddhist faith, then we care called to change the world. Each of us must become socially engaged. We must also challenge and repel hatred, anger and bias, even those found within our own leadership. As such, we must become aligned and engaged upon the ethical precepts of our faith.

If we don’t, all of us will eventually succumb to geopolitical numbers.

President Trump’s decision to rescind Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) reads like a modified Dickens’ novel.

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope … we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going to Hell …

Here’s one tale of the President’s action.

In dodging the press, Attorney General (aka “I Can’t Remember”) Sessions referred to DACA as unconstitutional and criticized it as:

“… unilateral executive amnesty that yielded terrible humanitarian consequences” and had “denied jobs to hundreds of thousands of Americans by allowing those same jobs to go to illegal aliens. We are a people of compassion and we are a people of law. But there is nothing compassionate about the failure to enforce immigration laws. The compassionate thing is to end the lawlessness, enforce our laws, and, if Congress chooses to make changes to those laws, to do so through the process set forth by our Founders in a way that advances the interest of the nation.

The decision could affect as many as 800,000. These participants are known and registered for the program since its inception in 2012. Immigrant rights advocates state 200,000 more have sought legal status through DACA.

GOP lawmakers and constituents have hammered the public of the consequences of DACA participants and immigrants denying jobs to hundreds of Americans. However, CNN Money claims experts say repealing DACA would worsen the shortage of workers in the United States. “Getting rid of DACA reduces the number of skilled workers and a lot of industries are facing worker shortages. To push this now is really an inopportune time.

And the other tale of President’s action?

President Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida filed requests with the government on Thursday to hire 70 temporary foreign workers as cooks, housekeepers and servers at the private club, according to records posted by the Labor Department. The jobs would begin on October 1 and end in May 2018. These positions would take advantage of the H-2B visa program, which allows U.S. employers to bring foreign nations to the country for temporary, non-agricultural work.

The irony is that the Trump administration moved to expand the H-2B program saying it would offers an additional 15,000 visas because not enough American workers are willing or able to fill the country’s employment needs for the rest of the 2017 fiscal year.

What Trump and Sessions represent is a form of “Scarcity Mentality” from Stephen Covey. As the Trump administration progresses, maybe they see life as having only so much, as though there were only one pie out there. And if someone were to get a big piece of the pie, it would mean less for everybody else. Accordingly, as Job noted “They thrust the needy from the path and force all the poor of the land into hiding.” Maybe what Trump appears to say is that the odds of economic advancement differ considerably based on family, race, neighborhood, and other factors. If you’re someone otherwise classified as non-American, you will not escape the income category we’ve defined.

To enforce this vision, in a little-noticed April 2015 speech during the Texas Patriot’s PAC, Trump talked about people crossing the border illegally in the same breath as foreign goods.

“Everything’s coming across the border: the illegals, the cars, the whole thing. It’s like a big mess. Blah. It’s like vomit.”

In a Trump world, DACA registrants represent the worst. They’re vomit. However, if you’re a foreign cook at Mar-a-Lago, you represent the best. Yet Christ, Buddha, Dr. Martin Luther King and Mother Teresa saw the best in the marginalized, those considered no better than vomit.

So, review your life. What represents the best of times? What represents the worst? How would God see your choices?

Prepare? Nah! Probably Not

Flood evacuees

In 2014, Kate Allen wrote a piece in the Independent on Syrian evacuees.

Since the violence erupted in Syria, 2.3 million people have fled the country, more than half of them children. The Syrian refugee crisis has been called “the most pressing humanitarian disaster of our time”, yet the UK government’s reaction has been tentative, to say the least.

I thought of Ms. Allen’s while reflecting on my nine months of FEMA service during the aftermath of Hurricane’s Katrina, Rita and Sandy. William “Brock” Long is charged with fulfilling the Trump Administration’s Hurricane Harvey FEMA effort. And while I sympathize with tactical, geographical and political challenges, I have grown weary of hearing how Hurricane Harvey was “unprecedented” or is a “one in five hundred-year,” no wait, “one in one thousand-year” event.

No. Harvey wasn’t.

All we needed to do was open the history books of Hurricane’s Katrina and Rita. Then, as now, scared and desperate civilians laid in the path of Mother Nature’s middle finger and fled, swam or drowned. CNN, MSNBC and print media filled our senses of vulnerable people: the elderly, unaccompanied children, flood survivors, drowning victims, and abandoned pets.

The Mayor of the City of Houston stated he could not justify evacuating the nation’s fourth largest city. People would die trying to evacuate – which is sort of like saying they’ll die if they try, so might as well die in their homes, terrorized by flooding they cannot outrun. Still, I’m unsure if I can overtly criticize the Mayor. Maybe he’s honest. Maybe he’s a political schmuck representing a broader city council who allowed unchecked regulatory building within a flood-prone area. Regardless, I do, however, note that we’ve been through this before.

Just as Kate Allen described, the European Union’s relocation of Syrian refugees is exhausting, both on an economic and humanitarian level.  Transpose that to Houston, Texas. Image if the U.S. had to relocate 4 million of Houston’s 6 million residents? Where would they go? Dallas-Ft. Worth? San Antonio? Austin? New Orleans?

If many local residents bitch about handling a couple of thousand international refugees, how do we handle the mass relocation of a major metropolitan area? The World Bank defines migration as “a process whereby a community’s housing, assets, and public infrastructure are rebuilt in another location.” Others emphasize other relocation factors as the “permanent (or long-term) movement of a community (or a significant part of it) from one location to another, in which important characteristics of the original community, including its social structures, legal and political systems, cultural characteristics and worldview are retained.”

FEMA is unprepared. In a post-9/11 world, our government’s preparedness for natural disasters takes a back seat to terrorism. 2005 government figures revealed 75 cents of every $1 spent on emergency preparedness went to anti-terrorism programs. A 2015 Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) survey found nearly 60 percent of American adults have not practiced what to do in a disaster. Additionally, only 39 percent had developed an emergency plan. This is despite the fact that 80 percent of Americans live in counties that have been hit by a weather-related disaster.

This whole post summarizes the obvious: we suck!

As the nation recovers from Harvey, as of this writing, Hurricane Irma approaches from afar. But wherever Irma hits, it’s already too late. The damage to be incurred was created decades ago by ignorant politicians appealing to their partisan base.

Maybe the U.S. will get serious and prepare for the future?

Nah! Probably not.

Screen Shot 2017-08-23 at 2.55.15 PM
After watching the “Alt-Right,” “This Right,” “That Right,” or “Whatever Right” protests, one could argue Southern Confederate statues are abhorrent relics of a bygone era that adds only painful memories of America history. Many concur with such feelings, as I do.

Looking past all that for a moment, I watched the (what I term) “Make American White Again” protests. I have to tell you, I’m amazed. As marchers carried weapons, shouted profanities, screamed anti-Jewish bigotry, I ask only one question: “Now what?

After all the protests, arrests, injuries and at least one death, “Now What?” That’s the fundamental, unasked, unanswered question: “Now what?” The question basically asks, “What are you going to do after the battle? What will you do post-protests?

Need some thought starters? Read-on.

What economic development will a statue’s symbolism bring America that will employ the unemployed? What will you do to bring jobs to a decimated coal industry? How will the movement bring health care to the uninsured? How will the movement feed the hungry, home the homeless, create quality education, rid the world of nuclear weapons?

How will you resolve the North Korean conflict? How will you resolve undue Russian influence?  Will sacrifice the Island of Guam to destroy North Korea? Will you pull out of NAFTA?

What set of environmental policies will the movement bring forth to reduce global warming? How will the movement resolve Flint’s drinking water crisis? How will you ensure clean drinking water that the current administration wants to end? How will the movement help a single mother become the best possible person? How will we resolve illegal immigration? How will the movement ensure second generation immigrants become the best possible person? And how will you define success … of anything?

How will the movement heal diversity? How will the movement heal race-based beatings Black, Asians, Muslims and others have experienced? How will the movement heal the LGBTQ pain?

If we purge all those considered non-white, what’s the litmus test? Should the litmus test appearance alone? Will a DNA equivalent of 10% non-white or less pass the muster? Maybe 35%? Maybe 10% non-white, but only those races from Scandinavia?

One last point, how will you return the life of a white woman killed by a racist protester?

Tell me this, then we’ll discuss your movement. Until then, get out of the way, you’re preventing progress.

“Even though The Tonight Show isn’t a political show, it is my responsibility to stand up against intolerance and extremism as a human being.”

“What happened over the weekend in Charlottesville, Virginia, was just disgusting. I was watching the news like everyone else, and you’re seeing Nazi flags and torches and white supremacists, and I was sick to my stomach,” Fallon continued, tears welling in his eyes. “My daughters are in the next room playing and I’m thinking, ‘How can I explain to them that there’s so much hatred in this world?’ They’re two years old and four years old. They don’t know what hate is. They go to the playground and they have friends of all races and backgrounds, and they just play, and they laugh, and they have fun.”

“But as kids grow up, they need people to look up to—to show them what’s right, and good. They need parents and teachers, and they need leaders who appeal to the best in us. The fact that it took the president two days to come out and clearly denounce racists and white supremacists is shameful. And I think he finally spoke out because people everywhere stood up and said something. It’s important for everyone—especially white people—in this country to speak out against this. Ignoring it is just as bad as supporting it.” 

“And remember: there are people who have given their lives to make sure this kind of hate doesn’t spread. They’ve fought and died on the right side of history. One brave woman in Charlottesville, Heather Heyer, died standing up for what’s right at the age of 32. I can’t look at my beautiful, growing, curious daughters and say nothing when this kind of thing is happening. We all need to stand against what is wrong, acknowledge that racism exists, and stand up for all that is right, and civil, and kind. And to show the next generation that we haven’t forgot how hard people have fought for human rights. We cannot do this. We can’t go back. We can’t go back.”

Jimmy Fallon got it right.

Yesterday’s GOP vote to move their iteration of the healthcare required some last minute dramatics, with arrival of John McCain and a tie-breaking vote by Vice Preside Pence. Senator McCain arrived with thunderous applause and received a presidential tweet calling McCain a hero.

“So great that John McCain is coming back to vote. Brave – American hero! Thank you John.” (President Trump, July 25, 2017).

That tweet counters what Trump stated as a candidate. During a July 2015 event, Trump said McCain “… is a war hero because he was captured. I like people who weren’t captured.” But yesterday, McCain was a hero once more. And with that vote, McCain saved the GOP healthcare bill via a partisan vote.

MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough claimed McCain was only moving the bill to debate, that the GOP Healthcare bill faces many steep obstacles. So, in essence, neither the GOP nor Democrats gained from the maneuver. That logic vacates the recent electoral cycle. For instance, no one thought Trump had a chance to win the Republican Primary. Of course, no thought President Trump would actually win the Election. Of course, few thought Betsy DeVose would win confirmation. Of course few thought President Trump would name his daughter and son-in-law as special advisors. And few thought Trump would fire Comey. Etc. Etc. Etc!

As a former veteran, I honor and respect Senator John McCain. I truly believe McCain has been, and always will be, a war hero. However, with surgical scars and all, McCain flew into Washington on wings of an eagle, yet made vociferous speech that ultimately landed a decision like a peck of a hen. Chicken.

McCain will did not vote for “a health care bill.” Rather he favored opening the amendment process. In doing so, he helped enabled the GOP achieve that any sort of measure is passed, tossing reform details to Senate-House conference, that will receive little input from anyone outside G.O.P. leadership.

In all transparency, Nate Silver (FiveThirtyEight) tracked and recorded the voting records of all GOP “Mavericks.” McCain has voted along party lines 94% of the time. Turns out McCain is no Maverick. And by casting his vote, McCain moved 20 million American Citizens closer to perilous health care.

In the October – December 2008 Dharma World Magazine, Pinit Ratanakul wrote:

“The Buddhist worldview is holistic and is primarily based on a belief in the interdependence of all phenomena and a correlation between mutually conditioning causes and effects. This belief is formulated by the principle of dependent origination, also referred to as the law of conditionality, the causal nexus that operates in all phenomena–physical, psychological, and moral. Accordingly, whether in the universe, the natural world, or human society, or within oneself, nothing exists as a separate unit but only as an interdependent part of the whole.”

What the GOP and Trump miss is that Americans are interconnected. And dumping 20 million or more into a world of inadequate care means America itself will probably not like the end result. However, maybe Trump spokesperson Kellyanne Conway is correct, those losing able-bodied citizens losing Medicaid coverage under any proposed GOP health care plan should find a job that provides health insurance.

Fortunately for McCain, he will return to Arizona for treatment – at the Mayo Clinic (Phoenix), a healthcare facility most could never afford. More than likely, McCain’s health care will likely cost him nothing. That fact was not lost on tweeter Alex Morash.

“Thankfully John McCain had access to the best health care in the world so he could get back to DC to vote to rip care away from millions.”

My New Normal

During a late stifling heat soaked summer day, a therapist friend suggested we get out of the house and drive around, take in a few sights and stop for ice cream at a local creamery hotspot upon our return.  Over the course of several hours, our drive included hills and valleys, wineries and riverbeds.  We blazed into and out of the summer sun, through lean tall trees of a not to distant national forest and rows upon rows of summer corn.

Fifteen minutes from home, she started a conversation that quickly nose-dived the afternoon.

“I have a client in her mid-sixties.” she said. “She loves to play with her granddaughter, but her knees started aching. Fearful she would drop and injure her granddaughter, she stopped playing. She went to a physical therapist who found nothing wrong, finding it all imaginary. The grandmother was scared to play, so she created a way not to play.  In other words, it was in her head. What do you think?”

“Why do I need to think about this? I really have no thoughts on the subject.” I replied.

“Well, I was thinking maybe the pain and issues you’re having are really because your scared, that if you change your thinking, you’ll change your fate.”

“Well…” I paused. “Transposing your client’s situation onto me is remarkably rude.”

Over the years, I’ve learned people don’t like unsolved mysteries. It’s true that my body’s battle, including Multiple Sclerosis, Spinal Stenosis and Cardiopulmonary Disease remains unseen to those around me. It’s not that they don’t affect me, I simply choose not to bitch about them while many are completely worse off.

However, my personal choice does not allow one to assume my symptoms are caused by angry spirits, a punishing god, nor like Job who gave up looking for explanations or to be accepted as part of God’s loving plan. Yet without symptoms, without evidence, people tender their thoughts to some undefined psychological problem that is ‘in one’s head‘.

I do believe people can benefit tremendously from psychological counseling and or mental health treatment. I believe people can find tremendous assisting in coping with day-to-day issues, as I have. But patients too often live by too loosely defined subjective and arbitrary judgments of others. It’s an insulting way of saying, “You look healthy, so you must be fine.”

So to all those who arbitrarily decide I am fine, I have a few questions.

What level of proof is adequate to prove my level of pain? How can I make you feel the arbitrariness of life? What will allow you to understand my level of exhaustion? And why should I not feel so sympathetic to others who experience similarly as I?

Contrary to your opinion, many, like me, do not surrender gracefully. We valiantly battle our symptoms and yearn for the days of yesteryear when we lived joyful lives and walking stairs did not seem like an ascent up the Grand Canyon. Some simply long for a good night’s sleep.

To my friend, people like me experience something called a “new normal.” First, it’s not all in our heads. And secondly, my new normal no longer includes assholes.

Into The Streets

All of us are faced with a myriad of decisions. Do this, then that. Do that, then this. Life is full of complicated, often uncharted decisions. How one chooses often makes the difference for so many millions.  This is what the GOP health care bill legislation reminds me of.

As reported by the New York Times, the selected Senators working on the GOP legislation includes Mitch McConnell, John Cornyn, John Thune, and John Barrasso. The group also includes three committee chairmen: Mr. Hatch; Senator Lamar Alexander, Senator Michael B. Enzi, Tom Cotton, Cory Gardner, Rob Portman and Patrick J. Toomey. This was an all boys’ club, woman weren’t allowed. No public hearings, no healthcare professionals and zero representation from the insurance industry.

Having worked in healthcare for years, I’m accustomed to seeing an oft-forgotten segment of society, the elderly and ill. Much of this group includes the mentally ill, dementia inflicted, those with Alzheimer’s, cancer patients, and Medicaid/Medicare permanently bound nursing home residents.

As person inflicted with both heart and neck disabilities, I am at peace knowing that for the moment, I’m not on public disability.

For the moment.” For the moment. The words “for the moment” lingers in my soul. I, like nearly sixty-five percent of Americans, will become afflicted by disease so severe that I will be forced to receive care from another. This is not a picture I imagined 30 years ago let alone 5. Like many who experience this, the vitality of life has left for better weather and all that’s left is this old wrinkled soul. It’s a reality almost all I’ve encountered expected.

Elizabeth O’Brien of Time Magazine wrote

When it comes to finding—and financing—long-term care for older loved ones, most families are on their own. And many end up turning to Medicaid when their money runs out. It’s not hard to drain your life savings on nursing home care that runs around $82,000 per year but can go much higher in costlier areas of the country. To qualify for Medicaid for long-term care, applicants need to have depleted most of their resources. Criteria vary by state; in New York, for example, the asset limit is about $14,000, not including a certain amount of home equity.

My healthcare experience included many assisted-living and nursing home facilities. Accordingly, I’ve residents from all walks of life – former professional athletes, teachers, farmers, doctors, lawyers, stay-at-home parents, health aides, stockbrokers, CEOs’, auto mechanics, and laborers. You name a profession, I have seen it. Many entered old age with significant assets but were forced into Medicaid as resources depleted. A combination of longer life spans and spiraling health care costs has left an estimated 64 percent of the Americans in nursing homes dependent on Medicaid.

So what’s the unanswered question? If the GOP bill gets approved, where do all these people go?

To the streets.

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