Category Archives: politics

March 31

March 31st is the day I picked Trump to “resign” as president.   I circled the date on the calendar about 3 weeks ago.  The 31st of March is the last day of the first financial quarter of the year.

Here is my theory.  Trump can’t help being himself. Which means a couple of things. He loves to win, loves a deal, and generally blames everyone else.  Trump is a business man, first and foremost.  He has been asked to be financially transparent and put his interests in a blind trust, but his kids are running his business and participating actively in his inner circle as “advisors”and if the pattern holds, nothing is going to change in the Trump chain of businesses.

The history of his business also includes settlement vs. trial for cases against him.  He works the system well, evaluating what the cost of doing business is, knowing what his bottom line is, what his loss tolerance is and going right up to it.  If he settles a case against him, he is not “guilty” he is just doing business.  His style is a winner/looser equation.  If he bankrupts, it is simply the cost of business, regardless of those who are not paid fairly.  That is how bankruptcy works.  Your debts are paid off.  He boasts that his style of business, this giving a shaft to your obligations is winning.

His past business practices are indicators of how his presidency will unravel.

He has already begun a negative branding campaign, fashioned after the Birther Movement.  And this is what a bully does.  By putting it out there, the story that Obama wire taped him at the Trump towers, then that story will get legs.  People hating Obama or what his Presidency stood for, will buy onto the “wiretap” story and will perpetuate it, even if it isn’t true.  A bully will say something nasty, not because it is true, but because the shear outrageousness will give the story a life of its own.  Trump and Bannon, through the Alt-right Breitbart media have tried this game out before and since it has worked in the past, it will be used again.

So Trump is planting the seeds to be able to say that it was not him, it was someone else who said it and he was just reacting to it.  He is planting the seeds to do a Trumpesque exit.  It aint about Russia, it is about doing global business and like the days of old school empires, Trump has been acting much in the same way.  Russia just happens to be one of the oligarchies at the table.

Here is the Tie in to the March 31st timetable.  It is the end of the first financial quarter. And something has to be reported and made public.  Better to get ahead of it then watch it all burn down.

Trump loves money and feeling like he is rich. The stock market has gone into overdrive and if I had a ton of assets in various markets, I would be selling stocks now and positioning myself to get ready for the bottom to drop out.   If you have a sense when this is going to be, then you would position yourself for the swing and when it happens, take advantage.  In farming, you store up extra hay, and grain especially if you know there will be a drought.  Once everyone else runs out of hay and grain, you can share what you have with those that ran out or sell yours at a higher price. Trump understands commodities and my guess is that he would not help out his neighbors, he would buy low and sell high.

So when the political heat gets too high, when he comes too close to the edge of losing his financial holdings through his companies, then he will walk rather than be forced into impeachment and potentially losing his companies.  It might be because of some wrong Russian chit-chat before the actually presidency, or it might be some illegal financial hood-winking that we don’t know about yet.  I tend to believe the latter. I think that there are some shady business and government crisscrossing going on and his children are in the middle of it.  He will be offered or will see an easy way to settle without looking guilt.

Then he will blame it on the media, on the democrats, on the system, on everyone but himself.  He will try and spin it that his hands are tied and for the benefit of the country, (because he is such a patriot) he needs to step down and “let” Pence take over.  He will walk with all of his holdings.

He just can’t help being himself.

 

Bennies

Bennies.

Not what you are thinking though.  I am thinking healthcare and insurance benefits.  I just spent the past couple of hours signing up for them and I am the lucky one.  

Lucky because my new employer offers a whole host of benefits which include medical, dental, vision, long and short-term disability. Then there is also insurance for credit fraud, benefit plans for lawyers, pet insurance and then the pre-tax, directly from your paycheck savings account.   There were 24 different areas to pick from.  I made my picks and I will be paying 3.8% of my gross pay for insurance per month with a potential of 1.43%  of the gross in costs for healthcare.  That is about 5% of my gross.  And that is affordable access to healthcare.

This new policy  will kick into effect 90 days from my hire date and I can breathe a bit easier.  I say that with the silly notion that large employers are keeping watch at the current health care payment fluster cluck.   I will be sorry to say goodby to the current coverage I have, but I am the lucky one.

I have been covered for the last year and a half on Mass Health, the Bay States version of the Affordable Care Act,  also known as Obama Care. In graduate school I was covered under a student health plan that basically covered very little.  When I graduated I was able to get onto the public coverage and because I was still training for chaplaincy, I didn’t have an income. As in I didn’t have a job.   The coverage was basically free to me and every medical expense was covered and 99% of my medications.   I could pick up my thyroid medication and instead of a 20.00 co-pay, I paid out 1.75.  One dollar and seventy-five cents.  Less than a cup of tea.  Even my Epi-Pen was free because of Mass health and the CVS pharmacist found coupons to make up the difference.

I totaled up my health care costs based on billing submitted by my providers and it came out to about 78 thousand, of which only a small fraction was paid out to the hospitals and doctors, but under contract, I was not billed.  I benefited from Mass Health profoundly.

Health maintenance is critical for me to be engaged in the larger community.   In order for me to work full-time, I have to keep self-care in the foreground.   That means that I have to put the needs of my body, mind and spirit before the needs of others.  I can not sacrifice me to serve others, I must serve myself first so that I can be there for others.   If I don’t take care of the vessel, I can not sail.

I am not unique on this. We all need to have good, not adequate, but good health coverage. By we, I mean all of us.  Good prenatal care, infant child wellness, preventative care, emergency care and end of life care, including hospice.   If we see the Dr. before the issue gets bad, or get our teeth cleaned on a regular basis or take the medications we should, then can you imagine what good would come from it.  More of us could do the work we are called to do.  More of us would take care of things before those little things become disabling.

So the issue then becomes: are we entitled to good health care?

If we look at the greater good, what is good for all of us in a society, then yes.  People do better when choices for care are available and affordable.   Society does better when the populace is healthy and can engage in the workforce.  Businesses run better when their employees are healthy. Our economy can grow when the population is healthy. Our country can focus on other issues if this one can be solved.

Looking at the costs billed from providers; hospitals, Dr.s and procedures like labs, I was shocked at the difference between the charge and what was paid out.  A blood test with a full metabolic panel was over 568.00 while the provider was paid 40.00.  It is like going to Savers and seeing a cashmere 4 ply designer sweater priced at 5.99 when you know that it retailed at over 400.00 and it probably cost 50.00 to grow, harvest, spin, dye, knit, ship, and stock at the store.

So here is the long-winded idea.  I got the sweet deal in insurance last year and now I continue with a sweet deal though my new job.   But I shouldn’t be the only one.  We should all have the ability to access affordable health care.  For the benefit of the individual and society as a whole.

 

 

Tell me why you fear him

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His name is Omran

In 1986 I was a student in London and thought that it would be great fun to travel with a buddy I had met at school.  Susie Morgahni’s family was living in London after immigrating from Beirut.  The cause was war.   Her parents had applied for visas and were planning to immigrate to  Youngstown Ohio when the school year was over.  Susie talked about to heading to back to Lebanon to see her brothers and grandmother one last time.

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The Morganhi’s had opened their London flat to me and it was a home away from home while I was abroad, and so when I heard Susie talking about the plan to travel home to Lebanon I asked if I could go too.  There had been a cease fire, and hostilities had settled. It would be a non-tourist type trip. I would be in the homes of friends and I felt safe about it. I could see the Cedars of Lebanon.  They said I would be an honored guest.

So the plan was that we would fly to Cyprus and then take a ferry over to Lebanon.  I called the states and told my family, who were less enthusiastic and they put up some strong opposition.  But I was 21, so I didn’t listen. I wanted to see the world for myself. I hated the US at that time. I thought that Ronny Ray-gun was going to cause the third world war.

Susie went ahead of me but I was going to meet her at the airport, head to Limassol take the ferry over,  be met by her family and have a fantastic reunion.

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When I arrived in Nicosia I saw armed security guards and instantly felt alarmed.  In customs they took my passport.  It felt like everyone was looking at me. The customs official glared at me angrily, pointed to the chairs and gave me directions in a language I did not know.  He took my passport, pointed at me while talking to other officials then went into an office.  He came back out a few minutes later and started to question my intentions.

Why was I in Cyprus?  Why did I want to go to Lebanon? Did I have a contact number for the people I was going to visit?  What was the relationship I had to them?  Why had I come from London?  Was I really a student?  My name was Alexandra, maybe I was Greek?

I was terrified.  They pulled my passport and I was connected to the American Embassy. I could head back to England or stay.   What ever my choice, I wasn’t going to Lebanon.

The school was closed for the week, so I had nowhere to stay over break .  Being completely naive, I figured I would stay in Cyprus for the week and at lease see the country.

The country was beautiful. I headed to Limassol and found a place to stay.  I found some Canadian troopers who had been assigned by the UN as peacekeepers and they spoke English.  I ended up having a terrific time for the first couple of days.

Then there was news that the United Stated had bombed Libya.  There were protests in the streets, effigies of Reagan being hung and the American Flag being burned.  I had never been so scared to be an American and so thankful that I had associated with Canadians and the Embassy.

Turns out my family, concerned for me before I left London, had contacted the State Department and I had been flagged.  I returned humbled from the experience and I came to love the freedom of this country and the assumed safety I had always felt as a white, privileged citizen.    Susie made her trip to her homeland and returned to London as well.  When she made her trip to the states as an immigrant later that year, we picked her up from the airport and hosted her for a couple of days before she flew off to join her Mother in Youngstown.

I was so very lucky to meet people who  were from different backgrounds than me. I was so very lucky to live in a different country and lucky to be welcomed into homes as a stranger.  As such, I was treated with the utmost hospitality and felt honored.

I have strived to show the same here in this country.    I have made friends with  Jamaican domestic workers on H-2B visas  and have invited them into my home at the holidays to share a meal.  I have hosted Chinese immigrants, who have finagled their way here through a complex network of “marriage”and extended family.  I have celebrated with friends who passed the test and became citizens.  I encourage my daughter to travel in China when she was 16.

My own family is not from here. They finagled their entré as well.  My grandfather immigrated from England and made a couple of attempts, then married my grandmother to get citizenship.  My brother in law has a green card.  Other ancestors came over on boats. From Germany in the 1800’s and from England in the 1600’s.  Every one I am related to is from away.   They came becuase of the myth that here, in this counrty, we are all equal.

His name is Omran. Tell me why you fear him.

He is a refugee and has the rotten luck of being born in the wrong place.  I welcome him.  I welcome those who have gone through all of the visa vettings and green card ques, those that are being detained at our airports. I welcome them.  There are those that wish to do harm to those who have freedom.  But it is not Omran.

We have taken a dangerous turn this week.  Banning people and building walls will only make things worse.  We are to welcome the stranger. We are to give hospitality.  His name is Omran.  He is welcome in my home.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hope showed up

16142597_421040801560465_7118998267674492025_nI called my friend Desirée yesterday to ask a solid favor from her.   Perhaps.  That was the pretense really.  I called her because I feel a need to hold my breath as this giant wave of discontent approaches and I need to slide down deep under the current to let it pass over me.  I need to be able to hold my breath, to be ready to come back up and to swim strongly out of the rip current.    I am a strong swimmer, but these waves are dark and fast and are crashing down, threatening to take us onto the rocks.

I have been quiet these 6 months, resting and refocusing.  Making ready for what lies ahead. Des and I talked about transition and all that comes with it and what we need to find in it.  Community.  Community is what I left in Vermont.  I knew who I was in my community.  I knew who I was in my life, but all of that changed.  Des and I talked about the inauguration, the Women’s march and the new executive orders that have been signed.  We talked about the feelings and what we experienced on Saturday.

She was in Santa Fe, in her new home and I in Boston.  She spoke of the mass of people and the hope that they carried with them.  She spoke of the community that was all around her.   I spoke of Boston and how it was like Marathon Monday, with opening day at Fenway and the Red Sox playing the Yankees, but add to that a super bowl win. That was the 175 thousand that marched.  But without the bravado. Without the drunk and brawling, over the top, chuckle heads with smeared paint on their faces.  Without the winners and losers.  It was like the best of Boston, the best of the world showed up and said we are here. We haven’t left.  Justice and Equality showed up and with it babies in snugglies, kids holding signs, grandmothers and fathers, some using canes and some just wearing pink hats. The students and the doctors showed up  after their shifts and the police stood witness to democracy in action.  Hope showed up along with Everything is going to be alright.

Des told me that I needed to write this.  I said, I have no idea what I said, you write it.

Then this morning my muse came back.

We know that storms come and that the currents and waves can do damage.  The winds of war seem to be in the air as well.  So we make ready.   We store up our good will and our kindness and our ability to give to others our of our own stock when required.  We batten down the hatches and bring in the boats.  We hunker down and get grounded in our spaces and wait it out.     And with some storms, we go out in the middle of it.   We naturally seek to help others in times of need.  Some people get caught in the storm.  We go out to bring them in.

And with this political storm, we are all in this together.  Not me from my side and you from yours. But all of us, at the same time.  Make ready.  Plan ahead and most importantly don’t lose hope.  This too shall pass.  It might be nasty now, but it will pass and those that can and should venture out into the middle of the mess will.  Of that I am sure.

We are better than what the storm wants us to think.