Category: Social Justice


After reading Forbes writer John Wasik article of how the GOP Tax Plan screws the middle class, I doth believe the Ghost of Christmas Hate has arrived.

First, the GOP argument is that an average family earning $60,000 annually nets a couple grand – roughly $2,100 – to which they get to choose how to dispense versus the U.S. Government selection. If you’re Republican, rejoice. Clap. Clap. Applause. Applause. Say, “Amen Brothers!” and “Praise Jesus.” If you’re Democratic, ‘Meh!

So how does the Ghost of Christmas Hate fit? Wasik noted that tax break comes with trade-offs. Two grand never comes free. Since the tax plan adds $1.5 trillion to the national debt, the imbalance is offset by cuts in “entitlement” programs like Medicare, Social Security and Medicaid or tax increases. GOP Senators rarely mentions offsets.

  • Lower Social Security payments by changing payment calculations. Much of that money comes out of the pockets of middle- and working-class taxpayers.
  • As Trump and GOP allies crow about how middle class families will receive a tax cut, other current tax breaks — like personal exemptions and property tax write-offs — get cut.
  • By 2027, anyone making less than $75,000 will have their taxes raised.
  • GOP Tax Bill does not cut corporate loopholes, bring back trillions in offshore cash nor cut defense spending. GOP will reduce the federal deficit by slashing big programs like Medicare, Social Security and Medicaid. As such, there will be no help for families paying for long-term care, payroll taxes or college. Monthly Social Security Checks will decrease.
  • People ages 50 to 64 would face average premium increases of up to $1,500 in 2019. As a result, 4 million more Americans will become uninsured in 2019 and 13 million by 2025, according to Congressional Budget Office estimates.
  • Even those who argue that the bill’s corporate and income tax cuts will spur economic growth can’t guarantee that any particular American will receive a raise.

Still, there’s positives to the GOP Tax Plan. The Ghost of Christmas Hate left wonderful rich boys and girls some benefits.

First, a quirk. The GOP Tax Plan exempts “private aircraft owners” from taxes on the “maintenance and support of the aircraft owner’s aircraft or flights on the aircraft owner’s aircraft.” I don’t know about you, but I’m glad Trump will not have to pay maintenance and support.

Second, Trump’s claim of “millions” of family farms and businesses suffering from the ‘estate tax’ (i.e., ‘Death Tax’) is not reality. There are no ‘millions.’ There’s no hundreds of thousands or tens of thousands. If the Ghost of Christmas Hate had repealed the ‘estate tax’ last year, approximately 80 of 5,500 of eligible estates would have benefited.

Why? Well, because only morons pay the estate tax.

Most fortunes amassed, like Trump’s, come from investment holdings, 55 percent of which were capital gains. They are rarely subject to tax. For these families, the first $5.49 million isn’t taxed, and careful tax planning can drastically reduce what’s owed on the rest. As Gary Cohn, the White House economic adviser, told a group of Senate Democrats this year, “Only morons pay the estate tax.”

Forbes notes wealthy people begin passing on their wealth to their heirs in the form of “charitable lead trusts” and other “exotic loopholes” long before the Angel of Death arrives. If Trump’s worth the $3.1 billion, as Forbes magazine says Trump is, by eliminating the estate tax excluding almost everyone, the Ghost of Christmas Hate saves Trump Jr., Eris and Ivanka $1.2 billion.

Third, Republicans are preparing to use the swelling deficits made worse by the package as a rationale to pursue their long-held vision: undoing the entitlements of the New Deal and Great Society, leaving government leaner and the safety net skimpier for millions of Americans. Speaker Paul D. Ryan and other Republicans are beginning to express their big dreams publicly, vowing that next year they will move on to changes in Medicare and Social Security. President Trump told a Missouri rally last week, “We’re going to go into welfare reform.”

Meanwhile, the $2,000 tax break you and I received is funneled back to the IRS, medical care, college costs, taxes, etc., etc., etc.

Happy Holidays from the Ghost of Christmas Hate!

Matt Lauer’s dismissal flashed across the television screen while attending to my father’s aid.  After a Thanksgiving stroke, my father’s condition left little time to review and assess anything more than a few sips of coffee is a silent cafeteria or quick naps listening the ‘beeps,’ ‘burps,’ and ‘swoosh’ of medical devices. Still, even I felt momentarily paralyzed.

Did this paralysis come forth because I knew Matt Lauer? Nope. Never met him or any other morning show host. In fact, I’ve only seen snippets of the ‘Today’ show in the past ten years. Neither have I been a regular purveyor of CBS, ABC, or FOX. If any show does standout, it would be ‘Morning Joe.’ My paralysis came forth not because I was surprised by Lauer’s termination, but rather from having incessantly witnessed harassment throughout my first 15 year career path. ‘Witness’ may be a bad term. Maybe the right word should be ‘trained.’

My early years included stints in the military, a non-for-profit, and an Asian automotive manufacturer. A lot of scenes weren’t pretty and were crude, ugly and demeaning. I simply cannot recall the amount of times I heard ‘pussy,’ ‘nipples,’ ‘dick,’ ‘suck,’ ‘anal,’ ‘breasts’ and whatever. Morning breaks included tallies of women conquered as if one were free-climbing a mountain’s summit. Lunch was about measurements, was she filled, did she scream, ‘glazing the donuts,’ and what’s left on the ‘to-do’ list before dumping the victim like trash strewn off an interstate.

The culture of my era did not tolerate non-compliance, neither male nor female. Intolerance resulted in an immediate career death spiral.  Twenty-years ago, as an employee of the aforementioned Asian automotive manufacturer, I lost my career protecting a female colleague against harassment. Job reviewer particularly noted “… not an effective fit for current company culture.” Seven years later, working as a consultant during an assignment in London, United Kingdom, just across the river from the Parliament building, I again defended a female co-worker being publicly and sexually harassed. The result? Same as before, I was released as part of department restructuring. Strange how I was the only employee ‘restructured.’

While I considered my father to be an upstanding man, he, like all father’s, was not perfect. He did, at one time, have an affair. As such, after reading the accounts of current victims, I wonder if the harassment witnessed in my era engulfed my father’s. There appears to be little difference. And therein lies the problem. Our harassment problem is broader than television or political icons. Harassment is a decades old, even hundreds and hundreds of years.

Over the years, I was never in a position to effectively require ‘sex on demand.’ I was never allowed that type of management position. Looking rearward, the lack of morality or corporate culture witnessed is not an excuse, then nor now. Harassment and sexual control remains just as much part of this world as it was my father’s. What’s changed is the dialogue. And the dialogue is greatly needed.

Many of us who worked and labored came to our workplaces to establish a career. Some found additional power in sex. It’s the leaders of my era who left a trail of pain in our wake. We were practitioners who disgracefully abused roles as leaders and mentors, betraying the trust of coworkers. However, most of us kept a silence on disturbing events swirling about. As told, protect the company. We coddled ourselves into believing the opportunity to learn valued more than our lack of moral strength. And if we said anything, we’d destroy the very careers we were cultivating. Like the good soldiers of A Few Good Men, we justified our actions via words like honor, code, loyalty.

I’ll end with a quote from the movie listed above.

Downey: What did we do wrong? We did nothing wrong!

Dawson: Yeah, we did. We were supposed to fight for people who couldn’t fight for themselves.

As Buddhists, Christians or Atheists, we’re supposed to fight for everyone equally. The problem is, we don’t. We didn’t in my day, neither do we today.

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.

I had an affair 30 years ago. The woman was my administrative assistant. Eight years ago, I almost had another affair. As to the second affair, the physical part never occurred. However, the second affair was brutally and publicly painful.

In both cases the women joined a silent majority. In both cases, I joined a silent majority. Both woman joined a silent majority of those who suffered silently. I joined a silent majority of men who used position and power that ultimately degraded another in some way. In light of the sexual scandals crossing the news outlets, I wonder how much I “retriggered” them during the past decades. How many days passed without suffering some form of humiliation?

I suffer from my own internal judgement, from the guilt and shame I inflicted. It never leaves. In decades of travel, I have found apologies are of little value. Even after apologizing and requesting forgiveness, I’ve sat on the shores of Hawaii, walked the forests of New Zealand, overlooked the Andes and sailed the Atlantic. Both women remain ever-present.

After hearing victims from Fox News, Roy Moore, Donald Trump, Mark Halperin, Harvey Weinstein, Kevin Spacey, Louis C. K., Steve Jurvetson, Eddie Berganza, Andrew Kreisberg, Benjamin Genocchi, Ed Westwick, Jeff hoover, Andy Dick, Ohio State Rep. Wes Goodman, Al Franken and others I wonder just how public testimony will abide the anvil that binds their soul. Will Thanksgiving really be more peaceful? Will Christmas? Will the public let you forget? Will your mind really let you forget?  Will the victims be more open, more loving, and more welcome in a newly refined “24/7” news cycle? Could each victim abridge public persona against the private?

What I failed to understand was that these women placed themselves in the hands of others. The women of my affairs trusted me. I failed them. And the misogyny of my heart will forever impact them. Yet no amount of reconciliation will give back the years sawed from their soul. More so, why should I be forgiven?

If there’s any tidbit of truth from the darkness is that the public treats these cases subjectively. Donald Trump was quick to denounce Franken via Twitter, labeling Franken as “Frankenstien” [sic]. However, Trump’s been silent on Senatorial Candidate Roy Moore. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, Democrat of New York, who holds Hillary Clinton’s former seat, said Bill Clinton should have resigned the presidency after his inappropriate relationship with an intern came to light nearly 20 years ago. Yet twenty years ago, we the public willingly chose to humiliate Lewinsky, not Clinton. Yes. “We,” the public, did that.

In Trump’s case, women alleged Trump had either touched, grabbed or kissed them without permission. Over the course of his campaign, more than a dozen women came forward. Without exception, Trump continues to claim there is “no merit” to any harassment claim against him, adding that the allegations were based on events that either never occurred or nothing more than a politically-motivated.

Accordingly, I make six predictions. First, I predict Al Franken’s career is over. Second, I predict Roy Moore will win. Third, I predict Donald Trump’s accusers will suffer for the rest of their lives, for “we,” the public, choose to allow them to suffer in vain. Fourth, Monica Lewinsky should be embraced, but I predict “we,” the public will not. Fifth, I predict to continue to wear the forged anvil and chains. That’s good. I forged them, I deserve them. Lastly, I predict Franken’s picture of groping Leeann Tweeden will give the millions of women living the silent majority a roar.

And for others? Donald Trump’s “Al Frankenstien” [sic] tweet received over 60,000 “likes.” White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders stands by President Donald Trump’s previous comments when asked whether the more than a dozen women who have accused him of sexual assault were liars. Yes. All of them were.

So that’s leadership in action. Add Sander’s to another majority …

“The Silent.”

The ideas I stand for are not mine. I borrowed them from Socrates. I swiped them from Chesterfield. I stole them from Jesus. And I put them in a book. If you don’t like their rules, whose would you use?

~~ Dale Carnegie ~~

I leafed through a copy of Chris Matthews new book “Bobby Kennedy: A Raging Spirit” and glanced through the book’s Prelude, I read Matthew’s words, “That Bobby’s background was different from his own didn’t matter; only his principles did.

I was eight years old when Bobby Kennedy was killed. Not completely unlike today, between March 16, 1968 and June 5, 1968, the country survived a series of events. Bobby Kennedy challenged his brother’s successor, Lyndon B. Johnson, for the Democratic presidential nomination. To which, LBJ withdrew. April brought the brutal assassination of Martin Luther King Jr., followed by urban rioting. And June 1968, the national would have to grieve again, as Bobby Kennedy would be assassinated.

Pushing democracy aside, our nation has not had to endure political assassinations. However, years of The Black Lives Matter movement, a Presidential race touting body parts, racial discord of white supremacy, sexual discrimination and the utter inability to work as members for a common good suggests our society has fallen behind the ideology of all men being equal.

Another small snippet led me to compare Trump to Bobby Kennedy. In reality, Matthews noted Joseph P. Kennedy (Bobby’s father) thought Bobby was devoid of any valuable qualities. Anguishing for a moment, I sat in a bookstore chair, closed my eyes and thought of Trump as he told FOX News “I’m the only one that matters.”

What Trump doesn’t understand is that Kennedy knew vulnerability alongside privilege and power. I fear this unwelcome gift the Trump children have applied well.  For instance, Ivanka Trump seems unwilling to acknowledge that there could, hypothetically, be a difference between what’s good for women and what’s good for her brand. In The Trump Card, Ivanka broadcasted her similarity to the President. “That’s what you get from this particular Daddy’s girl,” she wrote.

“As the first daughter goes around touting herself as a champion of women,” Sarah Newell, a representative for International Labor Rights Forum told Newsweek, “women are literally facing abusive conditions as they stitch her [brand name] into her products, and they aren’t being provided a structure where they can advocate for themselves.” NYT Opinion writer Lindy West phrased it well.

You’d think that a passionate anti-wage-gap crusader like Ms. Trump would relish a broad, ever-expanding data set illuminating her pet issue so that she could go after it with laser focus, but no. The first daughter strode into Washington with two big promises: She was passionate about helping “working women” and she was going to close the gender wage gap. However, Ms. Trump endorsed the President’s decision to abandon an Obama-era initiative. 

But remember, Trump is about brand – Trump brand. Not your brand. Not my brand. It’s as if Trump has been repeating, “I’m the only one that matters.”

The Trump brand will never intermingle with our brand. I’ve never heard President Trump ever express outrage at hunger in in the inner cities, mistreatment of blacks, or  unfair work conditions faced by migrants, regardless of how legal or illegal they be. Yet he will discuss nuking North Korea while simultaneously and unapologetically stating he received a high draft number and never served. Damn those bone spurs. And lastly, I’ve never heard Trump having the same empathy for white workingmen and women for blacks, Latinos and foreigners.

Trump’s true soul showed and we ignored it. As such, former Barack Obama voters swung the election by supporting Donald Trump. “It’s now the accepted wisdom,” Matthews wrote, “that the interests of the discarded factory worker and the ignored inner-city youth cannot be met together, so why try?

As a Buddhist, I find peace in Robert Kennedy’s sympathetic words from the night Dr. Martin Luther King was assassinated.

“For those of you who are black and tempted to be filled with hatred and mistrust of the injustice of such an act, against all white people, I would only say that I can also feel in my own heart the same kind of feeling.  I had a member of my family killed — but he was killed by a white man.  But we have to make an effort in the United States.  We have to make an effort to understand, to get beyond or go beyond these rather difficult times.”

Contrary to Trump, we are “that” which counts. And returning full-circle, I would much rather borrow principles from Socrates, swipe them from Chesterfield or steal them from Jesus versus living by Trump’s. Accordingly, every day, each of us must choose which principles to honor. Trump’s values are not my true north. Neither should they be yours.

America must make an effort … an effort to understand, to get beyond or go beyond these rather difficult times.

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?

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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.

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