Trump-Don’t-Care: More than a nonhealthcare plan, it’s public policy

So, yeah, of course he did. Trump couldn’t get his crappy healthcare bills passed through the legislative process because, amazingly, there are still a few Republicans who refuse to completely sell their soul to the anti-Christ incarnate residing in the White House. So, Trump did what any aspiring dictator would do, if the democratic process doesn’t work, he’ll just make commandments from his throne. So in yet another abuse of executive powers, the poor rendition of an orange Putin imposter dismantled the ACA with a stroke of a pen. He keeps claiming it will make insurance so much more affordable, despite all the numbers which say the opposite. The CBO says it will cause insurance rate hikes as large as 25% by 2020. 2020 is not that far away, people. That is literally two years and two and a half months from now. Okay, sure if you are super healthy you might be able to buy a junk policy that does basically nothing a bit cheaper, but not by much once those rate hikes hit. And then, if you actually have to use it… goodbye insurance premiums you can ever hope to afford! Trump doesn’t care if you actually have access to decent healthcare. All the best medicine and resources are commodities reserved for those who can afford it. He doesn’t care if sick children die because they are just weak links in the gene pool. If the parents wanted healthy kids, they should have been rich. He doesn’t care if poor people die because he thinks they are stupid. His logic: if poor people were smart, then they wouldn’t be poor, would they? He literally equates wealth to competence. While there may be some merit in a self-made multi-millionaire/billionaire being a pretty smart person, that does not genetically transcend through the sperm and ovaries to their offspring who hit the conception lottery. Trump is a testament to this truth.

But not giving a rat’s skinny butt about people is not isolated to the administration’s stance on healthcare. Nope. It is a general, broad-spectrum domestic policy. Just take a look at the disasters. Harvey and Irma earned a rapid and reasonable response from the administration because those are voters who are in states with people he sees as his supporters. There were also a whole lot of white people affected and wealthy people. Can’t forget the wealthy people, with whom Trump immediately likes to identify. Further, helping these people also helped his donor buddies. Lifting the Jones’ Act immediately in order to move fuel was an economic decision that was good for his cronies. If it helped out a lot of people in need, then that was a bonus good for ratings. But with Maria, a whole different scenario emerged. Now, Puerto Rico actually isn’t that far away. A two hour flight from Miami gets you there. It takes that long to fly from Dallas to Las Vegas. But somehow Trump has tried to paint the island to be hidden in the far reaches of the ocean, or “big water,” as he sometimes calls it. He wants everyone to think it is ridiculously difficult for our military, you know, like the Navy with its vast fleet of ships, to reach. Despite knowing well enough in advance to ensure a rapid response by the military, Trump did not bother to order the USNS Comfort to the island until a week AFTER the hurricane hit. He did not suspend the Jones Act until eight days AFTER Puerto Rico was demolished. And the administration had a great response, initially, as to why they did not see a need to suspend the outdated restriction on domestic shipping. They said they felt US ships could handle it fine, we didn’t need foreign assistance and that it was not economically advantageous.

But, of course, Puerto Rico isn’t full of Trump supporters and voters. It is a poor island that the US invaded and forced under US rule, subjecting the people to citizenship, thus making them eligible to be shipped off to war, and squeezing the small economy for taxes without giving them representation in congress. Trump likes ranting about Puerto Rico’s debt and claiming their real disaster is of their own making. But the truth is that the restrictions imposed on Puerto Rico, without the benefit of representation or power to vote, has placed the territory in a no-win position of perpetual economic distress. Conservatives don’t want to make them a state. They feel it would be just handing the Democrats more electoral votes because it is a minority-majority. However, if the restraints on Puerto Rico were lifted so that their economy could blossom, without the advantage of statehood, they would likely seek independence from a nation who really does very little for them. BUT- those are nuances completely lost on Trump. He doesn’t care. All Trump sees is a bunch of poor minorities and that is a perfectly good enough reason to not care if they live or die, or how they go about doing so.

We aren’t finished with disasters, however. Pop over to the West Coast and have a gander at it. Yeah, it is pretty much on fire. Over five thousand homes have been destroyed. Businesses and communities have been laid to ashes. Forty-one people are dead and hundreds missing. More than one hundred thousand people are still under evacuation orders. While the state of California battles these enormous fires to the north, more keep popping up through the state due to unusually high temperatures, low humidity and the strong Santa Anna winds which blast through the region this time of year. But not a peep out of the wanna-be president. Why? Well too many people in California don’t like him and that state didn’t vote for him. It has also been hot spot for anti-Trump protests and its metropolises are sanctuary cities in defiance of his anti-immigration policies. So, all things considered, Trump doesn’t care if California burns to the ground and everyone dies. He took days to respond to relief requests. Those days could have meant resources which might have saved lives. Just like in Puerto Rico, Trump exercises the death penalty for those who disagree with him. While he may not be putting a bullet in their head or a noose around their neck, willful, spiteful  negligence still costs lives.

So, healthcare, disasters, what ese? Hmm? How about his war mongering? Yes, Trump’s ever pulsating need to puff out his chest and demand respect he has neither earned nor deserves, has led to social media saber-rattling, publicly insulting the leaders of other nations, threats to abandon our treaties and honor our commitments, and outright bullying of smaller countries. Yeah, that sounds like leading the free world, right? Trump has done nothing to promote diplomacy around the world. In fact, he literally scoffs at it and calls it pointless. He earnestly believes might is all he needs. He chooses threats to bully the world, but is it even listening? He has systematically turned allies into wary acquaintances. He is pushing enemies to the breaking point. Why? Probably because there is no greater distraction than war. He is pushing buttons in hopes of a war, eluding to its inevitability constantly, for two reasons. First, because he believes war unites the nation behind the banner of Old Glory and no one can criticize him because he is the Commander In Chief of our brave military. He has a ridiculous number of scandals and a very uncomfortable criminal investigation festering around him at the moment, which he blames for his low approval ratings. Actually, he blames it all on fake news and says it is all made up. I’m pretty sure Mueller doesn’t have a Grand Jury for naught, however. And, well, no matter how often he tweets, Trump doesn’t act like an innocent man and his mouth is frequently his own worst enemy. Second, and truly the most petulant, Trump wants to play with his army men. He does not see our sons and daughters, sisters and brothers, mothers and fathers, aunts, uncles, cousins and friends as people. He does not recognize that the treasure of our military is not the bombs and guns and planes and warships, but the men and women who wear the uniform. They are the national treasure. They are the measure we use to determine the need for conflict. The test for any politician should be, “is this important enough for my child to sacrifice his or her life?” Not how much money it will cost, because money is replaceable. Lives are not. Trump’s wonton and flippant march towards conflict does not ask that question. It shows an eargerness to play with soldiers’ lives like they are expendable to his whims. He doesn’t care if they die. He doesn’t care if they are injured. He doesn’t care if they are captured or tortured. In fact, he likes soldiers who aren’t captured, as he has told us. Trump doesn’t care.

Oh, we can keep going. Education? Trump doesn’t care. Environment? Trump doesn’t care. Endangered species? Trump doesn’t care. Fair wages? Trump doesn’t care. Protecting the Social Security safety net? Nope, Trump doesn’t care. Fair tax laws? Yeah right… he thinks fair equals tax breaks for him. He doesn’t care about anyone else. Equal rights for all, nope. Trump doesn’t care.

Here is the breakdown, unless your name is Trump, and you profit from it, Trump doesn’t care. That is his broad-spectrum policy on everything. Simple and easy to remember: Trump Don’t Care.

Resist. Fight. Speak.

We are One Woman, One World.

Ann Lavendar Truong

Shout out to Anne Coffer, great friend and amazing colleague and author. She has a new book out, just released, that is fantastic, Edge of Ridiculous . I loved it! Get it! Read it! Then tell her how awesome she is! 

Links: More ways to find me or colleagues of mine to check out!   Author Mishka Williams

Out of sight: The voluntary blindness to racism in our society.

My heart goes out to the victims in Puerto Rico. I have been considering long and hard how to write this. I’ve been watching, waiting to see exactly what would happen. I gave this administration and our nation a chance to respond, to see how and if they would. For once, I was quiet. Well, okay, maybe not overly silent. I had a good bit of frustration and anger, some really emphatic social media posts and my poor husband heard a great many rants. Although, he didn’t complain. We share an indignant passion for people who are marginalized. He’s a good man. I’ll keep him. But, as for making an official statement, writing an article that would be tossed out to the masses, I waited. I just wanted to see what would happen and study the events as they unfolded so that I could look at it on  timeline comparable to other disasters. I gave this administration the opportunity to succeed before I condemned them. And succeed they did, though not in any manner worthy of praise.

Instead of showing any sense of compassion, Puerto Rico was met with contempt. They were treated, from the onset, like a parasite; with us but not us, sucking our energy and giving nothing in return. This is exactly how the so-called President of the United States of America treated U.S. citizens. He demeaned them. Blamed them. Insulted them. Denied them adequate relief efforts. The relief effort for Puerto Rico by the United States government was token, at best. That does not mean the people who went were not working as hard as they could. It means the administration sent way too few to help with an immense disaster. Puerto Rico is literally post apocalyptic right now. Sure, the death toll could have been worse, but we still, three weeks later, actually do not know how many have died. They can only officially report deaths confirmed related to the disaster. Since there are areas and villages still inaccessible, that count is sure to rise from the forty-five listed as of today. Oh, and people aren’t even finished dying, yet. And, there is the matter that only one agency, the  Institute of Forensic Science, can officially determine a death count, which means bodies either must be transported to San Juan or an official must travel to the location to confirm the death and that it is related. There has been some speculation that the death toll is being intentionally suppressed to paint the relief efforts in a better light. Outside estimates claim there may be between four hundred fifty to two thousand dead and counting.

Many people have died in the aftermath of the storm: in mudslides, due to the loss of medical services or equipment, and even to diseases from the tainted water. These people have not been counted. For whatever reason, their deaths were dismissed. There are reports from aid workers that the morgue in Aguidilla is closed because it is at full capacity. Those deaths have not been counted, either. Now to get a handle on that, it would mean around five hundred people, and supposedly, FEMA is aware of it, but not reporting them. The New York Daily News sent a request to FEMA to confirm this without response. I also made a request and mums the word coming out of FEMA. Nothing but a referral back to their website for updates on the situation. The Puerto Rican Newspaper El Vocero stated in a report that approximately three hundred fifty additional bodies were being held in the Institute of Forensic Science’s morgue. Those have yet to be verified or counted. My requests for information or verification of this have not been answered.

After three weeks, almost the entire island is still without power. Fuel is a luxury almost no one has. More than half the population is without clean drinking water. The tainted water is spreading disease. Most homes on the island have been damaged or destroyed. Communications across the island are near non-existent. It can take days to get messages between cities and some of the more isolated areas have yet to be reached.

The Trump administration would have you believe they have done a magnificent job in the relief efforts. In fact, Trump believes they have really done quite enough and the island needs to stop whining already. He blames them for their situation, that their infrastructure was too poor and inadequate. It may be true they had an old system in desperate need of updating, however, there is no indication that a newer system would have fared better under the extreme conditions of a large, powerful category four hurricane ripping across the complete island. A better electric system would not have stopped the winds so strong they snapped weather service wind gauges and cell phone towers along with power lines and buildings. It would not have stopped the landslides or the severe flooding or the trees being ripped from the round and turned into lethal projectiles ripping through power lines, homes and buildings. No. Poor infrastructure may not have helped much, but it did not cause the disaster.

Here is the funny thing, though; well not funny like a good joke, but funny as in peculiar, We never heard this type of rhetoric out of Trump regarding Houston. Now Houston’s civil engineering actually did hold some level of responsibility for making some very poor decisions on structuring neighborhoods in areas which should have been deemed flood zones. People’s lives were put in danger for profit, who should have been aware of the actual risk associated with the homes they bought. But not a word of dissent out of the administration. They got there and worked diligently to get people to safety. In Florida, again, no complaints towards the state or the citizens. In no instance did Trump ever suggest Floridians or Texans were just lazy and wanted everything done for them. He never belittled them. He never insulted them. He never made suggestions that the government had done enough and they should take on the rest by themselves, as he did this morning with Puerto Rico. So, we have to ask why? What makes Puerto Rico different? Well, there are several things.

First, Puerto Rico is not a state. While all the people there are citizens of the United States, they do not have the right to vote. They have no representation in the federal government with any power. Their position is that of a colony and is regarded just about as well as King George regarded New England. Actually, the comparison is solid. What brought about the American Revolution? Taxation without representation. And that is exactly the case with Puerto Rico. Most individuals do not have to pay federal income tax, though they do pay payroll taxes, social security taxes, commodity taxes, and import and export taxes. They contribute billions annually to the federal government, yet they are only allowed a single representative without voting power. Taxation without representation. Puerto Rico has been victimized for a long time, forced to adhere to ridiculous laws which keep its economy stifled and without the voting protection or voice to do anything about it. They are ruled by the United States, not governed. Their democracy is only local with very little power to effect change on any scale which would improve their situation.

And now they are being treated like the unwanted child of a mistress who a Republican Senator would have happily had aborted. They have literally been told by Trump that they are costing too much. Today he pled the argument that their situation was their own fault, so it is time for the federal government to start stepping away. Disgusting, right? But not so unexpected. We’ve only touched on the first point of how Puerto Rico is different: its lack of representation. Now let’s discuss why that is. After several referendums to become a state, the only reason Puerto Rico is not a state and entitled to representation is because the United States has failed to approve it. They like keeping Puerto Rico exactly like they are. Especially the GOP.

Why? Well, with statehood it would be an entire state of predominantly Spanish-speaking brown people. It is difficult to argue that English should be the only language when we have a state that is almost entirely Spanish-speaking. The white patriarchy would have difficulty accepting the people of this state as equals, much like they still cannot accept Native Americans as equals and continue to pilfer their lands and break their treaties.

This is the biggest difference, the reason the Trump administration doesn’t care if these people live or die, so long as Trump can claim he did something and good ratings: These are minorities. And worse, they are a majority minority.  Crippling Puerto Rico sets them back many strides in gaining representation; belittling them and making them seem like a parasite, rather than citizens worthy of equal rights and representation. This is a genocide of neglect on the part of Donald Trump and his actions should be criminal. He has literally killed people with his lack of adequate response. Lives lost that can never be returned. People are dead and they will never see their families, nor their families them, again, because he sent a quarter the resources to Puerto Rico that he sent to Houston or Florida with more than a week’s delay. His administration claimed there was “no economic benefit,” to suspending the Jones Act for the island, despite its immediate suspension after Harvey and Irma.

Thankfully congress is stepping up to at least send some sort of funding to help Puerto Rico rebuild, but that will not change the potentially thousands dead. I doubt we ever know the actual death count, but it is a sinister thought that it could be intentionally misrepresented.

In the end, this is just more about race inequality in our nation. Our racist president is ever eager to prove his white heritage dominance to the bulk of his supporters, who ironically don’t even think they are racist because they have a friend who is black or the guy who mows their lawn is Mexican. But they have an inherent disposition to believe that ‘other’ is bad. They are quick to accept that a black man is dangerous or an Hispanic man is lazy or a criminal. People of color are put in the position of having to prove themselves and overcome a negative impression that was gleaned from nothing more evident than the their skin tone.

Puerto Ricans are dying because of this voluntary blindness to the racism imbedded, systemically, in our nation.  This is the difference that matters, because this is the one killing them.

Fight. Resist. Speak for those who cannot speak any longer. Help these people, our people, our fellows, our countrymen and women. We are a nation of tragedies, so many of our own making.

We are One Woman, One World.

Updated 10/13/17 to correct Daily News to New York Daily News and to correct typographical errors without consequence to the meaning or integrity of the article.

Sources to Help the Victims of Maria

You can search for many more relief organizations.




The blood on our hands…

It feels like a blink in time since I wrote Moments of Silence and posted it here.  Forty-nine people dead in a senseless tragedy with what has been lauded as a terrorist attack, but more accurately was a deranged man caught in the metaphorical crossfire between his religion and being ashamed of his sexuality, throwing in a spurned romance to the mix. Instead of facing the reality of his life, he did something he hoped would erase what he saw as his uncontrollable shame. He made a quick pledge to those who would have happily condemned him knowing his secret truth, and sought out revenge on the man he couldn’t be with, the whole society he blamed for his ‘sin’ and himself. And he did it because it was easy to do. Here in the US we practically shove guns down men’s throats creating an atmosphere where a man capable of such violence, carrying a hint of that threat, is glorified and masculine.

So, fast forward to waking up yesterday morning (it wasn’t nearly long enough, but could it ever be?) and my husband texting me to look at the news, mass shooting is Las Vegas. We have no idea why this man actually put such planning into this murderous tirade. We know it could not have been a whim. It wasn’t likely a spur of the moment decision considering his prime location to terrorize a long-planned music event. All those rooms were likely booked up months ago. I want to see when he booked that suite.

He had an enormous stockpile of weapons and explosives and ammunition. So far, it looks like all the weapons and ammunition were legally purchased, though new information is continually emerging. I seriously hope the explosives were illegal, because if not, what the hell, Nevada? What no one has been able to locate, though, is a motive. The man did not just snap that day. He was prepared. He planned it. He chose the event and the location to rain fire. He had twenty-three firearms in the suite, they found nineteen more in his home. They found thousands of rounds of ammunition.

Now let’s think about this for a moment. Let us reflect on why this matters. One man bought enough weapons and ammunition for a small militia. And nobody knew a thing. He bought multiple semiautomatic weapons, and reports that he legally purchased an automatic machine gun, as crazy as that sounds. But no red flags anywhere. He bought thousands of rounds of ammunition, but no one noticed. Why?

Because no one was watching.

Because Nevada has some of the weakest gun laws in the nation. Pretty much only the federal government has weaker gun laws. Just some common sense laws would have alerted authorities to this man’s actions. Just common sense gun laws, not designed to completely disarm the public, but as basic safety precautions that any civilization hoping to live in some sense of peace absolutely must have, would have prevented this tragedy before it ever began.

These fifty-nine people did not have to die. Five hundred twenty people did not have to be injured. This was avoidable. This is our fault for not demanding better.

The NRA is a public lobbyist for gun companies. Their interest is not in your “rights” but in sales. They want to boost the sales of guns and ammunition. Once upon a time they advocated for gun responsibility and firearm safety education. Today they are pushing bigger and more powerful guns on the public like drug dealers. They have spun an advertising campaign which has duped a large swath of the population, laughing all the way to the bank. They promote scare tactics and false flags of attacks against your freedom to encourage you to buy more guns.

Guns are not exactly a perishable item. You don’t shoot it and throw it away. How many guns does a person actually need? Maybe a handgun for self-defense and a couple of different hunting rifles, depending on what kind of game you are after, and that is it.  Then what? Who sold you on that idea of a semi-automatic? What was it for? Did they appeal to any actual purpose? And what about those enormous clips? How many times have you ever needed to shoot twenty or thirty rounds in quick succession? Honestly, if it takes you that many bullets to hit a target, you are a piece of shit shot and someone needs to take you to a firing range and give you some lessons. Who told you more is better? All these weapons weren’t always legal, you know. They weren’t always readily accessible. People couldn’t always walk through towns with semi-automatic weapons slung over their shoulder. We weren’t always so afraid to walk out the door that we thought we needed a loaded weapon at the ready. The world did not become more dangerous until we became more dangerous.

Who made you so afraid? Who baited you with fear? Who told you that you should be afraid and that you couldn’t trust the police to protect you? Who made you think the government was coming after you? Who told you that gun control laws don’t work and don’t matter because criminals will get guns anyway, despite the clear data that shows gun control laws are affective? Yeah, in case you haven’t realized it, that was the NRA.

Your freedom is not tied to an assault rifle, or an assault styled rifle, or a semi-automatic any more than it is tied to a suitcase of explosives. Those explosives are illegal, but those guns are capable of killing and injuring just as many people. Want proof? Well there are a lot of video clips from Sunday you can look at.

I am sick of hearing about your “rights.” You have the right to a firearm, but not to any weapon in the world. Why? Because those fifty-nine people who will never go home had rights, too, and their rights to life and liberty were far more important than you pretending the second amendment entitles you to weapons that have no other purpose than the mass killing of people. You aren’t entitled to a bazooka or anti-aircraft missiles, either. Some things are more dangerous mixed in the public than any inherent positive value they may have. And I simply can’t find a single positive reason for these weapons to be available to the public. Saying, “It’s my right,” isn’t a reason. It isn’t even true.

We failed these people, just like we failed Orlando, just like we failed Sandy Hook. We have a lot of failures under our belt. We have a lot of blood on our hands.

I offer my deepest sympathies for the victims, their families, friends, and a city recovering and in shock. But I will give no more moments of silence. I will not be quiet. I will not wait on grief to subside before I attack this beast, because the dead are not coming home. Because every day of inaction is a day lost. I am going to fight to help prevent this type of tragedy shattering any more lives. So I encourage you, don’t be silent. Be the voice which breaks the silence; be rallying cry as we charge this beast.

We are One Woman, One world.

Ann Lavendar Truong