Things Here … and There

Knowing they didn’t have enough support (or even enough of their own party’s support), Paul Ryan and President Trump finally threw in the towel late this week and pulled the health care repeal bill from the floor — and well it should have been.  Screwing 24 million Americans out of health insurance, increasing costs to a segment of the older population who mostly live on fixed incomes, telling mothers that their maternity-related costs would no longer be covered and oh, by the way, did we mention that they could no longer depend on Planned Parenthood for help with reproductive choices, not to mention the exclusion of the pre-existing clause? It should go without saying that only a politician with no conscience whatsoever could stand in front of the American people and propose the passage of such a bill.   And speaking of conscience, while some part of me would like to think it had something to do with the actual outcome here, I suspect that the reality is more likely that the bill’s lack of support had something to do with the fear of losing an upcoming election. <Just saying …>

So, President Trump now moves on to tax reform — which I guaranty you will only benefit the top 1% of earners in America who will see what amounts to an increase of somewhere near a 20% boost to their income, while the rest of the American population would only see a boost of somewhere between 1% and 10% to their income. Does that sound like equality to you?  Forecasters at the Tax Foundation and the Tax Policy Center have predicted that what then-candidate Trump previously proposed during his campaign as his plan for tax reform would add trillions (yes, that was with a “t”) to our deficit.  How long would it take us, as a country, to dig out of that?  And is this what we want to leave to our next generation?  A precedent of inequality and a lifetime of paying off the debt? To the benefit of whom?

And while all eyes appear to be on Washington and our controversial President, be aware that tensions are escalating around the Straight of Hormuz, a Straight only 21 miles across in one area, where one-third of all the oil shipped by sea must pass through.  Politics are very much in play in this region.  Iranian hardliners may be trying to put pressure on Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, who is the subject of an election this May.  As I have mentioned in my blog before, these hardliners are thought to be behind many of the ever-increasing provocative actions that have been carried out against U.S. and other vessels as they enter and pass through the Straight in international waters.  Previously, President Trump has warned Iran that any challenges to our ships would result in Iranian vessels “being blown out of the water.”  However, just this week, as the USS George H.W. Bush passed through the Straight, Iranian vessels appeared yet again — all weapons armed — and came within 940 feet of our carrier while our armed sailors stood at the ready.

For the sake of many nations, let us hope that we are not provoked into being the catalyst that throws gas on what appears to be already-glowing embers — in a very volatile region.

Shalom, my friends.  Stay vigilant.  And speak loudly – with One Voice.

Our Voice

Once upon a time … long, long ago …. America had but one voice — whether we faced outwardly — toward the world stage in alliance with our neighbors and friends — or whether we faced an internal challenge among our own countrymen.

It was a voice that was truthful, measured and compassionate, and yet firm in its conviction.  Most of all, it was all-encompassing.  No one was excluded.  No one was left out. Democracy is about strength — and it’s about courage.  And it’s about having guts.

Since the era of George Washington, we chose one person to speak and be that voice for us … even when we didn’t agree … because, after all, we were one, with one collective voice.  It was important that we faced our allies with strength and understanding and were able and willing to lend a helping hand.  To those who were adverse to us, we offered to listen.  We offered to negotiate our differences.

On that very foundation, we began to shape our collective identity as Americans. Able to rise, ready to roll up our sleeves every morning, and get our jobs done.

Since January, we have seen and experienced divisiveness, deception, turmoil and near-chaos from our President and and his so-called administration.  The very fabric of our country — our beliefs, goals and ideals — are systematically being dismantled — each one held up like a trophy before being gleefully shattered on the ground before our very eyes.

It makes me sad and it makes me mad.  I am one of those people who have for more years than I care to share, gotten up every morning and put my best foot forward.  “Not On My Watch” has always been my motto.  And, believe me, I know there are plenty of us out there — currently working or not — that gladly contributed to that great fabric and provided some of the strength behind that great voice we have.  I am angry that our President and his self-serving, billionaire Wall Street appointees have such little respect for what we contributed — and in some cases, what we continue to contribute — every day.

And for those great, self-less men and women of America, who put their husband or wives, families and careers on hold while they served our country — what an affront to those people!  Do they not know that thousands upon thousands of people have died protecting that fabric — that belief system?  What more could a country ask?

I feel as though I need to write a letter of apology to Japan, who was the first to extend its hand in friendship to this nightmare of an administration.  And to China who has generously offered to mediate in relations regarding North Korea. To Germany for being willing to meet our President in spite of her personally being the subject of his hostile, tweeting rants in the past.  And to Great Britain, whom we just outright insulted because our President just makes things up because it might make a good headline and it’s always a good diversionary tactic.

Yes, we do have to ride this ugly, old, bumpy, paint-peeling, wheels-falling-off wagon until the bitter end for whatever the future holds for our country.  It is what it is.

But if you have the opportunity to speak out — to add your voice to ours — speak out loudly with strength and conviction.  Let us all be The Voice that doesn’t stop speaking about truth <a concept our President has yet to acknowledge>, our compassion and lack of sectarianism <obviously towards a religion that scares the Be-Jesus out of him>, and our American honor <instead of proving to the world that he has none and never will have>.

Yes, please join Our Voice — the Voice of America — who speaks the truth — even in the darkest of days.  Our Voice can be the beacon of what’s right with America.

Shalom …

Comments Welcome!

Now that we’ve closed the book on Serenity: Full Circle by publishing its final two chapters last week, please use the Comments feature here on the blog if you would like to give the author some feedback.  Good feedback tells the author where he or she could have done it better and, without that, it is always more difficult to hone the craft.

For those of you who have written, you know that it’s a labor of love — something that comes from your spirit and demands nothing short of being set on the page — to become finally free.

It will keep you up at night if you have wandered too far from its course and — likewise — it will give you immense joy when you know you’ve hit it right-on for the character or story line.

It’s when you see, hear and feel the characters and their emotions that you know that you are simply the scribe in the process.  It’s the characters who really tell their story — through you.

Until we meet again … shalom!