Saturday, May 27, 2017

America's favorite videos (and the ones no one shares) . . .

Saturday. Sofa. Coffee.

I have a confession.  Even as every day brings more serious news about the state of the world,  I watch video of our President and laugh.  I can't help it.  This week was like a greatest hits reel.  

There was the pre-arranged photo-op with President Trump huddled with Arab country leaders around a brightly glowing orb.  Each leader had his hand on the orb.  The photo-shoot was scheduled to highlight Saudi Arabia's new Global Center for Combating Extremist Ideology, which could be the subject of a whole series of serious posts.  But instead I wondered if this was what the old ABA (American Basketball Association) would have looked like today right before tip-off, if it had not merged with the NBA.   "Three, two, one . . . launch ... we mean team!!!"   Or I wondered if this was a trailer for a new Harry Potteresque kind of book series . . . "President Trump and the Golden Orb."  Or,  well let's just say I wasted a lot of time on the possibilities.   I was not alone. We invested a lot of creativity as a country captioning this one.  Perhaps I will do some serious research on Saudi Arabia's new GCCEI.  But this week I laughed.

Another photo-op at the NATO meet and greet cause me to smile.  We have all been to family reunions and a cousin wants everyone to line up for a group photo.  Some of us love it, some of us hate it, especially when one of our relatives has gotten on our last nerve.  Apparently President Trump was in the "love it" category as he appeared to do a football pass-rusher-swim-move to get to a place in the front center of the photo shoot.  He made the new Prime Minister of Montenegro look like the rookie that he is.  The video created an international conversation as to whether Trump's move was rude, or just the opposite, the result of his unexpected execution of a "man-hug."  Historians will have the final word.  But as for me, I looked at it and laughed.

There were hand-holding controversy videos as Melania seemed to refuse to take the President's hand a couple of times.  Maybe she did not want to hold his hand.  Or maybe she had actually paid attention to briefings which might have suggested that public PDA was not a good thing in Saudi Arabia and was trying to act accordingly.   There was a sword dance video which is the kind of thing all our Presidents seem to get trapped into. And there was the look on the Pope's face debate.  I know all of these things had serious ramifications, which may appear in a later post.  But they made me laugh.

It is too bad that things are so serious these days.  I think it is generally healthy for our democracy to be able to chuckle, good naturedly, at the person we have chosen to be the leader of the free world.  But in the serious context we find our world in, it is hard to know what to laugh at, or who to laugh with.  That's a shame, because nothing is more healing than a good laugh with friends.  Who can forget Obama's mom jeans or George W's mangling of "fool me once . . .?"   

The videos are everywhere.  From podunk blogs like this one to the great news outlets of the world, we were kept abreast of breaking gaffes.  Everyone had a caption, or an opinion. Many of us laughed or derided, many of us ignored or defended.  I am not being critical of the coverage. After all, the laughter this week probably added a couple of hours to my life.

But other things were in the news this week.  And the subject matter will not add hours to any one's life. Just the opposite.  Years of life will be taken away. 

Life will be taken away from folks who will never worry about the protocol of the highest levels of society or politics in Saudi Arabia or Europe. Life will be taken away from the least of these among us. And while these matters of life and death were covered with the time and column inches that remained after the afore-mentioned gaffe coverage, very little of it has been shared and tweeted and re-shared and re-tweeted.  The images do not make us laugh or smile.

In President Trump's budget proposal released this week, a significant number of children, elderly and sick will find it difficult, more likely impossible, to get medical treatment for illness.  Food and medicine will likely not be available to a significant number of these, the least among us.  Some who are already weary of battling illness will find it impossible to get medical treatment for the illnesses that have plagued them. Some will be forced to watch their children die for lack of medical treatment.  Children will go hungry.  In the USA.

Generally, the budget will cut $800,000,000,000, that's eight hundred billion dollars, from medicaid over the next ten years.  It will cut $192,000,000,000, that's one hundred ninety two billion from nutritional assistance.  It will cut another $272,000,000,000, that's two hundred seventy two billion, from welfare programs. It will cut $72,000,000,000, that's seventy two billion, from disability benefits.  College loan subsidies for the poor will be slashed.  

This does not include the effect of slashing of budgets that insure clean air and water, and pay for research for cancer, heart disease, AIDS and other life threatening illnesses.

I am confident this budget will affect a significant number of the least of us. 

What is a significant number, anyway?   If it is my child, then one is significant.  But if it is not my child, or my parent, or me, what is a significant number?  Ten?  A hundred?  Thousands? Or does it not matter at all if it's not my child, or my parent?

Under the proposed budget it will be more than one who will suffer or die.  More likely in the millions.  It will affect someone you know and care for.  If not, maybe you need to expand your circle a little.

I wish our President were capable of more decorum.  I wish he were not so belligerent.  I wish he acted more "presidential," bless his heart.   Changing his image is the one thing he might be able to do, he is a branding expert, after all.  But changing his image is also the least important thing he might do.  In fact it is his image that many Americans really like.

But image doesn't matter to the poor, the sick, the dying, the hopeless.  

Policy matters. Health care matters. Food matters. Education matters. Environment matters.

And right now, President Trump is proposing a budget of death and pain for millions of our fellow citizens.

And no one can laugh at that.  Especially if there were videos to share.


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