Category: Right Speech


~ In a time of domestic crisis, men of goodwill and generosity should be able to unite regardless of party or politics. ~

John F. Kennedy

The president wants four young U.S. congresswomen of color to go back to the countries from which they came. It doesn’t matter if they were born in the U.S. or whether they’re United States citizens. Just shut up. Sit down. Or go. Get out.

The love-it-or-leave-it sentiment is xenophobia at its worst. Such vulgarity originated as far back as the 1600s. Still yet, in 1798, our country allowed for the deportation of noncitizens who were considered dangerous, from hostile nations or dared to criticize the federal government.

Unfortunately, such xenophobia remains alive and well. Trump wants anyone different to shut up and be thankful they’re allowed to stay, even if constituents elected them. He communicated this message by relentlessly and culminated with a despicable attack on Ilhan Omar. In defending Trump, White House counselor Kellyanne Conway claimed that the “Squad” represented a “dark underbelly in this country” and that “We are tired of some of these women palling around with terrorists.”

As of this post, no evidence clarifies what the ‘dark underbelly‘ is or that any congressional member palled around with terrorists. But my guess? Conway conjured it up on the fly (i.e., at the moment).

Esquire writer Jack Holmes notes that Trump’s essential message is that America is the government of white people, by white people, for white people. Everyone else? Be happy you’re here.

REPORTER: Does it concern you that many people saw that tweet as racist and that white nationalist groups are finding common cause with you on that point?

TRUMP: It doesn’t concern me because many people agree with me.

CBS’ Ed O’Keefe spoke to several Trump supporters on Monday who agree.

  • “I know some people don’t like his tweets and they think he’s crass. I — that’s why I voted for him,” said retired businesswoman Mary Lou Kohlhofer.
  • Nancy Schneider even went so far as to echo the sentiment in President Trump’s tweets, saying, “If you think you have it better in your — where you came from or how they did things there, go back where you came from.”
  • Doug Thomas, said, “It’s unfortunate he had to do it the way he had to do it . . . It’s really the only way he can to get this country back.”

My first response to Mr. Thomas? Get the country back? From what and who took it? What exactly did Trump reclaim? Steel jobs? No. Companies returning to the U.S.? Nada. Foxconn’s building the ‘. . . the 8th wonder of the world?’ Hmm, nope.

Foxconn is just a tall tale – very tall. If actress Clara Peller were alive, even she might say, “Where’s the beef?” In June 2018, Trump joined Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker and Foxconn chairman Terry Gou in announcing Foxconn’s plan to bring 13,000 new jobs. With the stroke of a shovel, Trump declared manufacturing was back, and that Wisconsin’s Foxconn plant would be the “eighth wonder of the world.” In the year since, Gou resigned to pursue, and lose, the candidacy for President of Taiwan. A Mt. Pleasant, Wisconsin neighborhood got demolished. And there’s neither a plant nor jobs. Just destruction.

Conservative commentator George Will eloquently summarized Trump’s reign with a candid and stark assessment.

“I believe that what this president has done to our culture, to our civic discourse … you cannot unring these bells and you cannot unsay what he has said, and you cannot change that he has now in a very short time made it seem normal for schoolboy taunts and obvious lies to be spun out in a constant stream. I think this will do more lasting damage than Richard Nixon’s surreptitious burglaries did.”

” . . . Presidential norms and the idea of “being presidential” is a meaningless construct. And a lot more “lessons” that will be destructive to the way in which people run for president and act once they get elected.”

Regardless of religion, whether Christian, Buddhist, or Atheism, we must respond to suffering from loving-kindness, wisdom, calm minds, and courage. We should hear the cries of those who suffer and of our most vulnerable. The lineage of one’s non-whiteness, privilege, or citizenship must not be the sole determiner of human’ worth.’ Instead, we must unite with those who hear cries from the wilderness and become a collective force for transformation and love.

In the film Thirteen Days, the character Kenny O’Donnell quoted, “If the sun comes up tomorrow, it is only because of men of goodwill. That is all there is between the devil and us.” From all evidence presented, unless we change our mindset, the devil will be around for quite some time.

Alignment

The President sparked an uproar this past weekend by tweeting unnamed progressive congresswomen “. . . who originally came from countries whose governments are a complete and total catastrophe,” should “go back and help fix the totally broken and crime-infested places from which they came.

Trump did not specify the lawmakers, but the interpretation appears to have been Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) and Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.). All four are U.S. citizens. Only Omar, who was born in Somalia, came to the U.S. as a refugee.

Why does Trump do this stuff? Well, he knows ‘pretty’ and ‘fun’ doesn’t get headlines like fury and outrage. Trump proclaims that he alone is the conservative protector, and regardless of toxicity, he continually forges an ideological fortress of hatred that disembowels others while remaining unscathed by life’s vicissitudes. Asserting the right to engage in public displays of racism without it being called out for what it is. As Washington Post columnist Greg Sargent noted, “A crucial ingredient here is Trump’s declaration of the ability to flaunt his racism with impunity.”

Trump continually asserts that nonwhites born in America, but has ethnic roots in another country, is in some sense, not a real American. Therefore, they are suspect. What I am ashamed of is how the logic works. It’s not because we are no longer offended by any religious or moral sensibility, but that American’s succumbed to tools birthed in propaganda and a Twitter account. Just like any other rube, we let ourselves be taken in. We chewed on it; bathed in it; and swallowed it whole.

We’ve normalized hatred.

Consider Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham, one of President Donald Trump’s staunchest allies on Capitol Hill. Graham declined to condemn the President over racist tweets.

We all know that AOC and this crowd are a bunch of communists. They hate Israel. They hate our own country. They’re calling the guards along our border — Border Patrol agents — concentration camp guards. They accuse people who support Israel of doing it for the Benjamins. They’re anti-Semitic. They’re anti-America.”

On Fox News’s Sunday Morning Futures, Graham normalized dehumanization, saying:

I don’t care if they (asylum seekers) have to stay in these facilities for 400 days. We’re not going to let those men go that I saw.”

A broader question is, who will ultimately become more powerful? The current GOP administration? Independents? Progressives? As a country, are we to be ruled by the dogma of the ultra-wealthy privileged few or will we toward systemic reform thinkers?

Those in Trump’s orbit would note I lack neither the ruthless business savvy nor charismatic leadership style to overturn anything but the book on my table. For the most part, I remain anonymous, devoid of collaborators, and free from interference as possible. I command my own time; have a regular job; don’t have a vast retirement plan; live alone, and my credit rating is above average. I’ve abandoned any notion of family, having a family or children. And, I accept the fact I will die sometime within the next several years. Alone. Good. I’m OK with it.

The more substantial threat to the establishment lay in future leaders. Like AOC, Omar, Tlaib, and Pressley, these young leaders want to create their own platform and their voice. I don’t believe there’s any internal notion of being movie stars. However, they use the same Social Media platforms that propel hate to drive voices of compassion. As such, these voices will neither accept complacency nor complicity, and the current rule of “ruin everything” will not unify future generations.

I may not necessarily believe entirely in the political theology brought forth by AOC, Omar, Tlaib, and Pressley. But I admire their willingness to tackle far deeper problems: the fundamental evasion of heart that permeates much of life. The world needs these leaders. The world needs your leadership too.

A person could easily say that like Christ, Buddha was one of the most influential and prominent leaders in history. He created one of the most significant, most well-known religions in the world today. And unlike many of the leaders throughout the dawn of humanity, he did it without hatred or violence. What AOC and others represent is purpose: purpose of ending suffering. Not just for themselves, but everyone.

Authentic leadership comes from deep confidence and understanding of life that enables us to align our compass to a humanistic direction without departing from our humanity. When we fail to follow our calling and vocation, and instead, focus on the most unimportant and trivial, our conscience warns that something’s not right and corrective measures and proactive actions are required. Therefore, we must initiate a conscious effort to dedicate enough time, focus, and energies on positive, meaningful activities and align ourselves to commandments found in the Beatitudes, located in the compassion of Buddha, and bless us with true peace, joy, and fulfillment. These are the values that help us be “human” in a godly sense.

In a real sense, our life is about love–it’s the compass of compassion God requires us to align.

I once heard a nurse refer to the cancer clinic waiting room as “cell block death.” She refused any notoriety as the originator, but its description stuck.

Cancer can be the ultimate waiting room. We wait for a diagnosis and then to learn more about our diagnosis. We wait for test results. Then we are in the ultimate waiting room after treatment, waiting to find out if our cancer will return and if we will ultimately survive our cancer. We wait for years wondering if we are safe, if we have beaten cancer.

The woman sat across from me, emotionally lost, either as a result of a broken romance, life changes from a serious illness, or maybe a demanding employer. In my time, I’ve seen a lot. Even though my shinning armor had rusted, I reached back into my days of dreamlike knighthood and reached out.

Huh? I’m sorry?

I asked if you were ok? You seem concerned.

Oh,” collecting herself. “My bossed called. Asked if my cancer treatment would impact my brain and thought process.”

God,” I said horrifyingly. “I am so sorry.

I am only on my second treatment. I have breast cancer, not brain cancer. I never experienced anything like this before. Have you?”

Ah,” chuckling nervously. “Ah,” pausing again, “Three weeks ago, a supervisor called the sister of a deceased employee three hours after the funeral and demanded when she would ship the company laptop to Information Technology.

Oh my God,” raising her palm to her lips. “That’s awful.

Yup,” with a pause. “When HR heard, HR sent an email to all managers to never, ever do that again, that any communications with a deceased employee’s family comes from HR.” Rolling my eyes, “Imagine, someone had to tell them this.

Sheesh,” shaking her head in disbelief.

Yeah, idiots are out there. Unfortunately, some are in management. When I was in consulting, I witnessed a CEO ghost-pepper mad that the company hadn’t fired an employee prior to receiving a liver transplant, ‘…it was going to affect our health-care plan,’ he stated.

She chuckled, “What kind of consulting was this?

Healthcare.

She roared in laughter. “Yet, here you are.”

Irony of ironies.” shrugging.

I handed a business card and requested that should she ever need someone, to either write an email or call. She smiled, slipped the business card and mouthed the words ‘thank you.’ In the days following, she has not contacted me.

Contrary to the public perception, the statement “first, do no harm” it isn’t a part of the Hippocratic Oath at all. “First, do no harm” is from “Of the Epidemics.” I’ve met many a ‘professional,’ both in and out of healthcare. Let me say this, helping the sick is ‘optional.’

For all on the road to kingdom come, it’s up to us to take care of the sick, the disabled or those in pain. If we see someone struggling with a heavy load or difficult task, we step in and share their burden – share the pain.

Mueller spoke.

And like prophets of a bygone era, we passed. Alex Shephard wrote, “Mueller, it seems safe to assume, had hoped that his report would speak for itself; that it would transcend the partisan narratives that had engulfed the investigation from its inception. That hasn’t happened—not by a long shot.”

Maybe author Michael Wolff was correct.

Mueller had come to accept the dialectical premise of Donald Trump—that Trump is Trump. He threw up his hands, and surprisingly, found himself in agreement with that Trump was the president – for better or for worse, what you saw was what you get. Trump is who the country voted for. Trump is what they get.

For more than 20 years, American’s have been in a mostly unknown dance with Grendl. Coming forth from the midst of reality television, our Grendl spun a dialect that enchanted American water cooler conversation, “Who’s getting fired this week.

Our Grendl is not the Grendl of the famous Anglo-Saxon poem. I’m referring to the Grendl who emerged from a New York high-rise. It’s the Grendl our soul, the Grendl that willing accepts a new level of viciousness with a promise of a greater American glory—such viciousness will make America great … again.

Mueller spoke.

Similar to his report, we searched for our Beowulf, the knight who would slay our Grendl. Investigate. Report. Indict. Impeach. Reaching back to our days in high school, many sat on the sidelines and cheered in unison, “Mueller, Mueller. He’s our man. If he can’t do it, no one can.” He didn’t. Mueller refused to accept the gilded knight. Instead, he lay his version of the book of life upon our desk.

Dare we read?

Speaking to reporters on the White House lawn, Trump made it clear that Mueller’s exhortation to read had fallen on deaf ears.

“I’ve never read any of my books, and I certainly don’t intend to read his (Mueller’s).”

Funny, neither did Barr. An INSIDER survey indicated many Americans had yet read Mueller’s report, yet willing accepted it (Mueller’s report) exonerated Trump. To those in that category, Attorney General Barr and President Trump ‘luv’s ya’ baby.’

American’s willing drink from the cup of hate. It’s the irony of ironies! America is condemned, not only by ourselves, but by the very leaders who claim to be reputable, knowledgeable, and trustworthy. That includes Graham, McConnell, Murkowski, Collins, Tillis, former Senator Flake, and former Speaker Ryan. All accepted the golden calf.

Even world leaders kiss the calf. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe gushed about his “very close personal relationship with Donald” and called the United States-Japan alliance “the closest in the whole world.” In their book, “How Democracies Die,” Steven Levitsky and Daniel Ziblatt warn of other notable elected leaders who’ve perverted the democratic process, including Hugo Chávez of Venezuela and Viktor Orban of Hungary. And let’s not foget Kim Jong-un’s love sonnets.

As the years move forward, America will silence critics. The government will display higher tolerance for extremist and bigoted views. We will liken Democratic and oppositional viewpoints to Nazis. Oversight will become treasonous. Public protests will be vilified “acts of terrorism.” Our new America will reject the principles of democracy, the legitimacy of opponents, curtail civil liberties and nurture the seeds authoritarianism. If you’re black, you die. If you’re Mexican, you’re a rapist.

Herein lay the hard lesson – Trump won’t last forever. In the wake of his presidency’s will cometh another—Grendel’s mother. Trump may be mean, ugly, and vicious. But the next guy will be worse. And just as Eddie S. Glaude Jr. previously noted, it will be appalling how so many Americans will bathe in the pool of ‘vicious.’

And Muller spoke.

When Tiger Woods was criticized for receiving the Medal of Freedom, one could presume he would accept the honor based upon his comments from August 2018:

He’s the president of the United States. You have to respect the office. No matter who is in the office, you may like, dislike personality or the politics, but we all must respect the office.”

In awarding the medal, Trump called the champion golfer “a global symbol of American excellence, devotion, and drive.”

“Tiger, we are inspired by everything you’ve become and attained. The job you’ve done is incredible,” Trump said to Woods. “Your spectacular achievements on the golf course, your triumph over physical adversity and your relentless will to win, win, win; these qualities embody the American spirit of pushing boundaries, defying limits and always striving for greatness.”

“He’s also a great person. He’s a great guy,”

No. He’s not. Elin Nordegren might beg to differ.

In the age of Trump, Woods’ comments is a tough sell. Trump has turned every day into a political litmus test that no one or no cause has been spared. For Woods’ to say he respects the office (the Presidency) is in effect having an opinion. Silence is a betrayal.

This is a presidency many athletes have rightfully chosen to not respect. Respect goes to those who don’t call people “sons of bitches” and hope they lose their jobs for protesting racism. “Respecting the office” means not disrespecting, not just “the office,” but people of color, immigrants. women, the disabled, older Americans on welfare … Tragically, the list is long Trump rants stand as an ugly testament to his petty hatreds.

However, Mr. Woods and PGA alike, I will do what neither couldn’t – I will never watch another PGA tournament again.

As one Twitter user noted:

Woods might be a talented player. But he’s not a great person.


P.S. ….

I had a followup appointment with my physician yesterday. Having worked in the medical industry since 2006, I envisioned the nurse who performed intake returned to the Nurse’s Station saying, “He’s still alive.”

In many hospitals, nurses usually have ongoing office pools for all sorts of weird things: football, baseball, NCAA Basketball Tournaments, the length of Nicholas Cage’s marriages, the number of months between McDreamy’s, and ETOH. In medical terms, ETOH is alcohol. All alcohol has an Oxygen (O) and Hydrogen (H) molecule (thus the OH at the end of the term “ETOH.”) In other words, I’ve seen medical clinicians bet on the intoxication level of DUI’s dropped at the door.  So, I just presumed they wagered whether I would return, and if so, what condition.

Yet, I survived.

My physician eased through the door. A tall Ukrainian woman with a beautiful personality and general concern for her patients. I envied her – not from the aspect of pure beauty alone, but her ability to ease through doors. She moved effortlessly, glided past chairs and bed posts. Seamlessly pushed her coat aside, she sat in the chair next to me.

“I’m glad to see you.”

“Me too,” I replied with a smile.

“Well, any changes from the visit?” she queried.

“No,” I noted while briefly looking down.

“Meaning, you still feel like shit?” she smiled.

“Oh yeah,” I smiled back.

“Well, I got you an MRI appointment in this century,” she laughed. “Either someone found another MRI facility or (winking silently), they no longer require one. Thus, they slipped your name in for the end of April.”

“You mean, April 2019?”

“Yeah.”

“Wow. I feel special.”

“Whatever happened, I think you’ve stabilized. But remember, you’ve been diagnosed as a walking time bomb. So, don’t do anything stupid until we get some better ‘Art Work (imaging photos).’”

“So, no scaling cliffs, paragliding or alligator wrestling.”

“Hmm,” rolling her eyes, “alligator wrestling is ok.” A brief pause. “I will do the best I can for you. We all will.”

A brief tear of honesty dribbled the length of my cheek. “Dang dry eye,” brushing it aside.

“A nursing aid will come in and get you out of here, with a request to draw some blood and get you back in next week.”

“See if you can find my odds for next week. Maybe I’ll buy a square.”

She laughed, “Be nice to her.”

The nursing entered with a cart. I contained my paperwork, one needle and vial.

“Ok.” She started. “Which arm?”

“For what?”

“For your Zoster (shingles) vaccine.”

“What for?”

“Our computer says you need the vaccine.”

“Well, I find it humorous, that I could die at any moment while as computer simultaneously says I need a vaccine.”

“At least you won’t die from Zoster.”

“You’re teasing right?”

“Nope. You’re not leaving until you get this vaccine.”

“Frriiiscncddfkw, ffrrrummmp, frump,” I mumbled.

“Oh,” and the computer says your BMI is too high. You need to get some exercise.”

“I can barely walk 60 yards without pain now. Can I take up jogging?”

Realizing the unforced error, “Sorry, just reading the printout.”

“Frriiiscncddfkw, ffrrrummmp, frump,” I mumbled.

Just prior to walking out, the receptionist yelled.

“Hey. You’re at 93–1.”

Smiling back, “I’ll take a square.”

Does Integrity Matter?

Every person is given either a moment or moments to shine, to show who they are and what they mean to the world and to oneself. The people we meet in life, allies, former lovers, friends and acquaintances, each have their own opportunity to become a sensei. These opportunities show the capability of how one uses their strengths, regardless of who they are to another.

It is in this light I thought of President Trump’s signed an executive order, a week into a government shutdown, that freezes pay for 2.1 million federal civilian workers in 2019. The Office of Personnel Management issued “salary tables” the same day that show “rates frozen at 2018 levels.” This action pours salt upon open wounds of 800,000 furloughed federal workers.

Does character matter? How would you define “good character” and has the meaning evolved in any way over time? One definition of good character, would include a cluster of qualities: integrity, trustworthiness, flexibility, understanding, empathy and a set of values from open-mindedness to concern for human rights.

For Trump? Nada. Doesn’t exist.

As Jennifer Rubin noted:

President Donald Trump has an uncanny knack for making a mess of simple, traditional functions every other president has managed to carry out with ease.”

I keep wondering, is Trump’s presidency really the presidency American voters envisioned?

In reviewing action, it’s hard not to see that the Trump administration likens most as movable pieces on a chessboard, serviceable only to political agendas. Through circumstance and systemic oppression, constituents voluntarily chose manipulation, as they are continually promised movement on issues of deepest concern without significant action in any measurable way.

As columnist Brandi Miller captured, over the course of several years, Trump:

“… simply cares about maintaining a base. He has put children in cages at the border, disregarded the value of Black lives, desecrated Native land with the Keystone XL pipeline, oppressed trans people in the military and regularly dehumanized people through his petulant Twitter tirades.”

From someone who’s traveled far and wide, Trump exemplified a slow migration from an NBC evening entertainer to irrational tweets positioned as policies. Such antics are nothing more than a prop for self-aggrandizement. Facts subordinated. Reputations be damned. Honesty dismissed. Integrity trashed.

From a Buddhist perspective, honesty and integrity are essential components of a good life. Integrity is essential in understanding ourselves, our relationships, our knowledge of the world, and most importantly, our efforts to help those in need.

This new year, take time to carefully examine your life – the life you are leading, your world-view, and that which you take for granted. Don’t over analyze others, for it’s easy to pick on mistakes and faults of others. Rather, note the world’s faults and your own.

So, does integrity matter? Should we care? Integrity is what you have when you speak and when what you speak comes from a position of love. Ask 800,000+ federal workers if they’re feeling the ‘love.’

However, if you adorn the current rhetoric of America’s leaders, you are witnessing that which is not harnessed in love. Rather, you are witnessing the death of integrity and the increase of power.

In the movie The Legend of Bagger Vance, the character Rannulph Junuh, demonstrates personal integrity in a way rarely seen in today.

On the final hole, Rannulph Junuh is in a virtual tie with rival golfers. As Junuh prepares to chip, he reaches down to remove a twig beside his ball and his ball moves slightly. Junuh and his young caddy, Hardy, are the only two witnesses to the ball’s movement.

With tremendous courage, Junuh admits, “The ball moved.”

Hardy immediately begs him not to say anything, as he is sure it would mean defeat. Hardy tells him, “No one saw it move but me and you. I promise I will never tell. No one will ever know.”

Continuing to display uncommon integrity and courage, Junuh responds, “I’ll know and you will know.”

True ‘integrity‘ is missing from today’s world. The lack of integrity displayed during the Kavanaugh hearing by both Republicans and Democrats was pitiful. Accordingly, Senator Jeff Flake, Susan Collins, Lisa Murkowski and Joe Manchin could be summarized similar to Manchin’s post-procedural vote when Manchin was asked if he thought there was “… still place in the Democratic Party for you after this,” Manchin replied, “I’m just a good old West Virginia boy” and walked away.

Manchin made his decision only after Collins professed her loyalty to Trump, thus removing any political pressure. That’s like claiming you’ve participated in battle by staying in a foxhole. However, truth be told, everyone really knows you’re chicken-shit. In the military, we’d label Manchin a coward.  Or as Trump Jr., truthfully, but mockingly noted, “A real profile in courage.”

Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND), appeared to be the only profile in courage compared to her colleague from West Virginia. Heitkamp, to whom FiveThirtyEight gives a 31.5 percent chance of winning her Senate race in November, came out strong against Kavanaugh’s confirmation, no matter the political consequences.

Key takeaways.

  1. Save your calendars. They might save your career. Worked for Kavanaugh. Might work for you. If you need a blank calendar from 1982, you can purchase them on eBay for approximately $7.00. Strange how no one asked Kavanaugh for his 1983 and 1984 calendars, just to see if he really kept them. Somewhere, I envision a former NBC morning host sitting on his couch thinking, “Shit. Wish I thought of that.”
  2. Current dialogue and discourse reinforces the idea that if sexual assault isn’t reported right away, it obviously didn’t happen. Or, as Orrin Hatch would say, you’re “mixed up.” Or as others have alluded, “We believe you were assaulted, but we believe you’ve got the wrong accuser.” Logic alone says this type of attitude has serious implications for survivors and supporters alike.
  3. A woman holding a thirty-year old calendar, claiming wild Clinton conspiracy theories and openly weeping on a national stage never gets elected, holds any office, or gets confirmed to the Supreme Court. Only privileged white men can do that.
  4. The average age of members of the U.S. House at the beginning of the 114 Congress was 57.0 years, with Senators being 61.0 years. And for young adults aged 25 or less, a very white 85-year-old Chuck Grassley, a very white white 84-year-old Orrin Hatch, and a very white 63-year-old Lindsay Graham decided how you get to live for the next 30 – 40 years. Congratulations!
  5. Like Obama said, elections have consequences – Trump won. Still, as a political force, millennial’s rival boomers. But will millennial’s vote? They didn’t in 2016. Will they in 2018? How about 2020?

While The Legend of Bagger Vance ended better that what most will experience, the message is clear. Our level of integrity should be the same, regardless of the outcome. In life, in work, in school, at home, or in society, opportunities to cut corners, cheat or get ahead will often go unnoticed. If we don’t practice our integrity when alone, we’re less likely to do the right thing when someone watches. And people like Trump, Grassley, Hatch, Collins and Manchin hope no one watches.

At the end of the day, maybe’s there’s some modicum of hope. Minutes after Sen. Susan Collins announced her support for Brett Kavanaugh, the site to fund her opponent was so overwhelmed it crashed.

Never Become the Story

NYTBy all accounts, The New York Times (NYT) is a wonderful newspaper – excellent journalists and usually staunch supporters of verifying truth over perception and innuendo. I’ve loved reading the NY Times and I’ve been a subscriber for years – until yesterday.

By my perception, the NYT has had a lousy month. September 5th, NYT editorial staff published an anonymous editorial, I Am Part of the Resistance Inside the Trump Administration. That publication had both critics and supporters. For supporters, the NYT displayed a sense of courage often undertaken in articulating one person’s perception of day-to-day events. Politico.com argued that by not forcing the author to identify her, or himself, the NYT has made that process (being anonymous) more difficult. For me, I saw nothing in the writer’s op-ed extraordinary enough that justifies access to the NYTs’ powerful platform.

In a story destined to alter history, NYT reporters Adam Goldman and Michael Schmidt delivered a powerful headline September 22nd: “Rosenstein Suggested He Secretly Record Trump and Discussed 25th Amendment.” The story focuses on Rod J. Rosenstein, the deputy attorney general, the man responsible for overseeing the investigation into potential Russian collusion. For that reason, he is of tremendous interest to Trump. Getting rid of Rosenstein would be supremely helpful to Trump as he could nominate Rosenstein’s replacement and shut down the Russia investigation.

It’s difficult, at this stage, to assess the story and what really happened. The primary source for the NYT appears to be a series of memos written by McCabe. Additionally, the NYT’s sources were sources who briefed on Rosenstein’s comments and seen memos prepared by someone else. In other words, the NYT are all second-hand – individuals not present during actual events.

In fact, the only direct human quotes are from Rosenstein’s denials.

New York Times reporters are convinced Rosenstein was serious about using wire taps and vetting the 25th amendment. How do they know? According to CNN’s interview, Rosenstein discussed it twice. As in 2 times.

Seriously?

So, Rosenstein stated the ‘25th Amendment‘ twice? Any action to initiate the thought? “No.” Any evidence of secret meetings with cabinet officials that propelled invoking the 25th Amendment? “No.” Any secret memo’s, confirmations or planning by anyone, an FBI agent, the postmaster, Facebook post, Twitter post saying “Meet me at the secret galley,” or even a mic’d up squirrel? “No.” The entire article’s basis is founded upon someone’s inference of another person’s interpretation of Rosenstein’s comments.

The writers should have cited a source for every claim but don’t. Thus, readers have no way of knowing whether the facts are accurate. All of this was irresponsibly shaped and void of important framework.

Key takeaways. First, I have no clue if Mueller’s investigation will bring any meaningful charges against Trump’s inner circle. But it should be allowed to finish. Second, if you’re going to call out the deputy attorney general for instigating a potential coup d’é·tat, better have something more than second-hand sources. Third, if I published something like this, my employer would fire me.

All the NYT did was become the story.

Former Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said President Bill Clinton “more than paid the price” for his affair with Monica Lewinsky while he was in office, basing it in part upon the fact he was impeached. Vice President Joe Biden echoed similar themes.

The same can’t be said for Lewinsky.

As the Huffington Post noted in 2012, Lewinsky floundered. She’s designed handbags and received an advanced degree in social psychology from the London School of Economics, but nothing seems to have stuck.  No one will hire her. In the past few years, Lewinsky has reemerged into the public spotlight as an anti-bullying activist. As such, if she lived near me, I would be proud to call her my neighbor.

For the accuser, life outcomes tend to be different. The harassment sequence is familiar to anyone who has followed the Harvey Weinstein scandal. Power and imbalance. Professional invitations really disguised for assault. One person trading upon connections, plum jobs, pressuring the younger person for sex, followed by the “public outing,” and indignation of being falsely accused.

As Vox wrote earlier this year, Weinstein’s community rejected him. Yet Trump and Alabama Senatorial candidate Roy Moore continue to receive support. Why? Well, they’re needed. The Republican party needs both Trump and Moore. They certainly don’t need Al Franken.

People may think sexual assault is unacceptable, but when push comes to shove, there are circumstances under which they’ll tolerate it because there are other things that matter more to them.

Should you be the accuser, the window of light is very small, then you’re discarded.  While I understand that as humans lying may seem to be a common practice, the public automatically assumes “victims” would lie and “the accused” be believed because they have a public presence.

Repeated presentations from law enforcement, FBI, therapists, and state providers provide hard evidence that “false allegations are very minimal.” The overwhelming majority of victims drop their charges because the implications and pressure to convict the accused are too costly. They shared how difficult it is just to try and convict those guilty of sexual assault, pedophilia, and neglect. It was difficult to not only hear but to swallow.

Throughout the years, I’ve taken an extensive personal inventory of the man I had become. For quite some time, it was not a pretty picture. Many years later, I now take responsibility for speaking out, for listening to those who claim to be victims, and holding men accountable for their language and actions.

As a Buddhist, I understand people don’t always tell the truth, but we should not immediately assume that those who are dishonest. As leaders, in both community and household, we required to act, to fight for victims.

Biblically speaking, I suggest the following:

“Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves. For the rights of all who are oppressed speak up, judge fairly, defend the rights of the vulnerable and needy.” (Prov. 31:8-9)

The Monica Lewinsky’s of the world need us.

%d bloggers like this: