At The Border: Immigration Or War

So it’s interesting how this whole immigration crisis is playing out in real life and simultaneously on TV. 


In real life, we have a caravan of thousands of people marching from Central America (Honduras and Guatemala) to the U.S. border seeking asylum, mostly for economic reasons. 


On TV, we have the Last Ship Season 5, where South and Central America are at war with the U.S., “no longer willing to sit at the children’s table of international politics,” and they are coming to the U.S. to fight.


In the U.S. today, there are over 40 million people that were born in another country.  Of these, there are over 12 million immigrants living illegally in the U.S. (55% from Mexico), and we know that we need immigration reform.  


In the truest sense, we are almost all of us immigrants to this country, with ourselves or our families coming over at one time or another, and we are grateful for the generosity and open doors that allowed us to come here and make a good life.


Of course, we want to pay it forward and give others the same asylum and opportunity that we had and which they as human beings deserve. 


Yet, the country continues to debate the mix of compassion and giving to the oppressed and needy versus the merit principles for bringing in needed skills, talents, and investment, and how many is the “right” number to allow in at any one time.


In real life, we are beefing up border agents, building a wall, and calling in the military to halt the illegal flow of immigrants, so that we can channel immigrates through a process and vetting that leads to legal and safe immigration to this country


On TV, we are fighting in the air, on land, and at sea an alliance of countries from the south and central that want to take over the U.S., and we are also holding our own and holding them back.


In both cases, we need to have and maintain borders to be a sovereign country, to protect our country, and to ensure that caravans of illegal immigrants or foreign troops are not crossing the border and doing harm. 


It’s high time for true immigration reform that is compassionate yet principled, but overrunning the border isn’t an option that is practical or fair.  😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Some Reflections From The Procedure

So I had a little procedure this week. 


I hate going to the hospital–who doesn’t?


But I figured better to take care of something before it gets worse. 


I think of it like taking the car into the mechanic for a tuneup every once in a while. 


This analogy stuck with me years ago, when the orthopedist told me I needed to get a hip replacement and started to describe it as having a flat tire that needed to be repaired. 


Leading up the the procedure, someone sent me this funny cartoon:

This really hit a nerve too because even the best medicine these days reminds me of the truly horrible medicine not so long ago.  


Ah, have some liquor, bite on this piece of wood, and now we’ll saw your leg off!


I remember my father never even liked to go to the doctor, and he had total faith that G-d was his doctor–I think he actually managed to avoid the doctor for literally something like 30-years.


He also used to joke that many doctors were butchers, and he didn’t want to get caught under their knife. 


So that’s certainly some apprehension going in to this. 


The other thing that was interesting-sad that I saw this week when I went for an MRI was someone taking a homeless person into the radiology center for a scan. 


But when the lady asked for insurance the person didn’t have any, so the lady asks for “proof of homelessness.”


I was flabbergasted at this as the guy was obviously homeless and literally was wearing tattered clothes.


They wouldn’t do the scan until the person escorting him would come back with this proof.  


I felt so bad for him and thought to myself is this what the healthcare system and care for the poverty-striken in this country has come to? 


While I am so truly grateful for the miraculous care that I received this week, I am equally saddened at the care that others don’t get that need it, and pray that we as a “caring society” will do better. 


Anyway, I want to express my gratitude to the doctor, the hospital, my wonderful family who stood by me, and most of all to G-d for seeing me through the procedure this week and for watching over me always. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Going To Bed Hungry

So lots of people like to drink tea. 


But the other day, a nice person was telling me how they drink tea all the time. 


It’s not just that they like tea, but there was an important true story behind it. 


You see, they said, when they were young growing up in a foreign country, they often didn’t have enough to eat. 


So instead, they had resorted to drinking lots of tea. 


They went on to say, that as children, they often had to go to sleep hungry. 


It is truly a wake-up call for those of us who, thank G-d, have what to eat and so much choice and plenty in this great country. 


Not everyone in the world is so blessed to eat heartily and go to sleep with a full and satisfied belly. 


It is especially saddening and tragic when we are talking about innocent children in this world. 


As we go from the workweek to the weekend, perhaps it is a good time to reflect on how much we have to be grateful for and to wish blessings of peace, health, and prosperity on all our fellow mankind, here and all around the world. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumethal)

Homeless DC

So aside from all the Washington, D.C. weighty monuments to our esteemed values of democracy, freedom, and human rights.


And aside from all the prestigious institutions and people of great power that formulate the policies and rules and keep us abiding by them. 

This is what I see in D.C. 


The plight of the poor, homeless, and downtrodden. 


Those that have fallen by the wayside.


People who are down on their luck.


Human beings–that’s right human beings–that need and deserve help or even just a chance.


Why does anyone have to live–if you can even call this living–like this a couple of blocks from the White House. 


I know there are people all over the world who are hungry, homeless, sick, and abused.


Yet, nowhere is this more stark an example than in the U.S.A where there is such an enormous divergence between “the haves” and “the have nots” and where our values are supposedly bound up with equality, human rights, charity, and kindness.


Yes, we are supposed to be equal in treatment and in opportunity, but we all know that is not really the case. 


Sure, some work hard and others are perhaps lucky/blessed, but then are those that are born with a “silver spoon in their mouths” and excel through a tight weave of corruption, narcissism, nepotism, and abuse.


Yet a real chance for everyone, a living wage, and basic dignity and respect should be afforded to all.


Money and power is ephemeral.  


Those with it, that abuse it, shall see it pass between their fingers ever trying to clutch unto it with dear life. 


Only the way we treat others will last in this world and in the world after. 


Everything goes around and comes around. 


This is the cycle of life and the lot of those who abuse their good fortune as well as those that harness it. 


G-d will judge with His mighty hand and bring to bear the deeds and intentions of those that mock His holy will. 


Because His children lay in rags and heaps, while others dance their folly jig. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

STOP Human Trafficking

So we watched the movie “Sold.”


It was about this young Nepalese girl (maybe age 12) who was sold into a horrible brothel in Kolkata, India.


She fought to keep from getting raped, but eventually they drugged her and tied her hands to the bedpost–where the evil bastards had their way with this child. 


She and the other young girls in the brothel were raped about 10 times every evening to “repay their debts.”


The horror these children go through taken, beaten, drugged, and raped over and over again. 


It’s unthinkable and the lowest grotesqueness of people who could possibly treat children this way. 


Finally, the young girl does manage to escape to Hope House (a rescue shelter for the human trafficking victims) and with the information she provides, the police are able to raid the brothel and rescue the other children. 


The movie tells how their are 5.5 million children around the world that are being sex trafficked–and I would presume that the real number is unfortunately much higher!


I can only imagine how G-d must cry heavenly tears for these poor children.


It is incredibly hard to understand that in some areas of the world poverty is so bad that some desperate families actually feel they have to resort to selling their children to survive.


In other cases, the children are preyed on and simply disappear.


Children who should be playing with toys are instead forced to be sexual play things. 


Innocent children who should be treated with love and care are instead treated as animals for the sick and cruel physical pleasures of others. 


Have mercy on these children—save these children from wherever they are bound and held–give them back their freedom and their dignity. 


If ever there was a cause for people to rally around–surely, saving these children from sexual abuse and trafficking is one that all can agree is at the crux of our very humanity and mankind’s soul. 


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

If I Could Be Anyone(s)

So someone asked me a very deep personal question.

“If you had $20 million dollars and could do whatever you want (be whoever you want), what would that be?”


I was on the spot a little and didn’t have time to introspect the way I like to do, and I gave an answer that I really wasn’t happy with…and it’s been bothering me since. 


So sitting down now and really thinking about who I want to be–this is my real answer:


As a composite person, I want to have the:


– Lovingkindness of Mother Teresa


– Serenity of the Dalai Lama


– Spirituality of Moses


– Determination of Rocky


– Leadership of Rick Grimes


– Strength of Samson


– Agility of Bruce Lee


– Intellect of Sigmund Freud


– Understanding of Albert Einstein


– Ingenuity of Steve Jobs


– Inquisitiveness of Capt. James T. Kirk


– Bravery of those martyred in the Holocaust


– Heroism of Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu


– Beauty of my wife and daughters


– The integrity of my dear father, Fred Blumenthal


What would I want to do–just simple things like:


– Cure Cancer, Parkinsons, ALS, etc.


– Eliminate poverty


– Herald in world peace


– Help/comfort those that are hurt and suffering


– Make people smile/happy


– Be a good person with integrity in all situations


I could probably go on and on, but generally this is what life means to me. 


Maybe today, I ain’t the smartest or fastest or strongest, but I have dreams, hopes, and aspirations. 


If that isn’t good enough, well at least I have a heart and a soul. 😉


(Source Photo: Dannielle Blumenthal)

Pennies From Heaven

So I ran into this lady in downtown Washington, D.C.


She posed for the picture and made sure to line up the top and the bottom posters to get it just right


It says:

“Not One Penny In Tax Cuts For The Rich”


Makes intuitive sense doesn’t it: the rich already are blessed with…riches!


Any more pennies in their war chest is sort of a drop in the billionaire bucket. 


With tax reform is on the table now…we need tax relief for the middle class and to grow the economy. 


The rich really do not need to get any richer.


Especially with a national debt over $20 trillion already–and not including future entitlement obligations that exceed projected revenue for social security and medicare, which bring the debt in excess of $70 trillion!). 


The gamble with this whole tax reform plan is that the $1.5 trillion or so in proposed tax cuts over 10 years translates into a much bigger economic expansion that makes up for that revenue loss to the government and more. 


If not, well then Uncle Sam bet wrong and our annual deficit gets bigger and bigger (already $666 billion in FY 2017).


Tax cuts for the rich today and estate tax cuts to pass wealth between generations–when they impact the top 1% are ridiculously targeted to those who really don’t need it, and many of the decent ones, like Warren Buffetdon’t even want it


Let’s have a heart and help the people that really need the help–let’s narrow the growing divide between the haves and the have nots, and move to eliminate the class system that elevates one child of G-d over another. 


– While some live in McMansions, others are homeless.


– While some eat steak and drink expensive bottles of wine every night, others go hungry and thirsty.


– While some wear fancy designer clothes, expensive jewelry, and different outfits every day, others don’t have a clean shirt on their back. 


It’s nice to think that some “deserve it” more than others, but we also have to think who really needs it more. 


And if the pennies do ultimately come from Heaven (as all blessings do), then let us distribute these with compassion and lovingkindness as we know our Creator would want us to. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

It’s Gazillions Baby!

Handbag - Silk.JPEG

So being a millionaire is no longer anything.


You’re still considered sort of a poor schlub!


Even a billionaire is not such a big deal anymore. 


It takes at least $2 billion to make it unto the Forbes 400 Richest Americans List


Further, a recent episode of CNBC Filthy Rich Guide asks who will become the world’s first trillionaire!


They say trillionaire as in a number with “4 commas”–never really thought of it that way.


…but it’s definitely a big,(1) big,(2) big,(3) big,(4) big number.


Jeff Bezos of Amazon with $90 billion currently in the bank and growing fast is forecasted to be the one who will make it. 


So no longer are we betting on which mega corporation–Apple (with a current value of almost $830 billion)–will become the first trillion dollar company.


We are talking individuals with that much moolah too. 


So with the median net worth of Americans a measly $69 thousand dollars, it’s no wonder that billionaires like Mr. Wonderful (Kevin O’Leary of Shark Tank) calls more than one entreprenuer looking for an investment, a cockroach!


What’s a shame is not only the complete social inequity and class system that we have and that continues to grow with those in McMansions and others homeless, but also that so many can’t see that what’s really important is not the beautiful pocketbook full of money, but the decent soul filled with good deeds! 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

It’s Not (Always) Easy

Not Easy.jpeg

Sometimes, we see people–especially on social media these days–and they look “all that!”–so happy, so loved, so rich, so with everything–so it seems (superficially). 


But there is definitely another reality out there, and that is that everyone has problems:


– Family

– Health

– Finances

– Work

– School

– Conflict

– Spiritual


Like Helen Keller said: 

“I cried because I had no shoes until I met a man who had no feet.”


I remember as a child, if I felt sad about something, my dad at times would remind me about the children in the hospital, and to think about how we can help others less fortunate–and he was right!


What I see in life is a lot of people trying, but also so many challenges, failures, and suffering along the way…unfortunately, it’s part of the learning and growth equation, and in why we’re here. 


In college, I always remember one (English) professor who taught me from Henry David Thoreau:

“Most men lead lives of quiet desperation.”


Sometimes, in our solitude or when we speak quietly from our heart with our closest loved ones, we feel and express some of those deep feelings of hurt, pain, and suffering from our lives.  


Those experiences, memories, and feelings are not all that there is of us, but it is certainly a part of all of us–although maybe only the brave will admit theirs.


It’s not shameful to feel, to cry, and to be human. 


It’s certainly not what Facebook and Twitter are all about. 


But it’s a genuine and critical part of us which recognizes as my dad also taught me that–life is not easy–and that we have to fight every day to do our best and to help others to do theirs. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

When Evil Seems To Prevail

Break In.jpeg

So there is this little Chinese restaurant–it sounds so cliche. 


But this one really is so small and bare that despite its name, which I don’t even know, we call it “The Hole In the Wall.”


This poor family with their children work behind the counter and kitchen serving up to the locals in the area. 


We know them from the neighborhood and they are always friendly and nice people just trying to make their way 


Well, over the weekend, this is what happened to their little hole in the wall. 


See the photo at the top!


I asked the lady, “What happened here?”


And she told me they had been broken into.


“That’s terrible! Well, what was taken?”


“Just a little cash box, but there wasn’t much in it,” and she half smiles.


Like this is what they smashed their door and broke in for…a few measly bucks. 


I told her how sorry I was for her and her family.


The people with nothing break into the other people who have nothing to steal basically nothing. 


While so many of the gazillionaires are choking on their wads and wads of money lavishly spending on mansions, yachts, planes, cars, drugs, prostitutes, clothes, jewelry, and endless parties. 


Let the others starve…except let me give a little to start a foundation…it’s a great tax shelter!


What type of world is this?


I’ve been sick the last few days and had the chance to watch a few movies related to this theme.


One was the Bitter Harvest about how Russia raped and pillaged Ukraine in the 1930s treating them as their breadbasket.


In the movie, Stalin says to take 90% of the food from the Ukrainian peasant farmers whose land they invaded and seized.


His henchman replies:  “But they’ll starve to death.”


To this Stalin responds, “Then takes everything!”


The movie well-portrayed the merciless killings and the people starving in the villages and the city streets. 


According to the postscript at the end of the movie 7 to 10 million Ukrainians perished.


Those were the days of great evil–Stalin, Hitler, Mussolini, Hideki Tojo, etc. 


Then another movie, The Birth Of A Nation, showing the horrors that the black people endured under slavery in this country.


The beatings, the rapes, the hangings, at one point, they even took a hammer and smashed the teeth out of the poor black man’s face as he hung from the wall in the barn in order to force feed him.


The brutality was unbelievable. 


What type of world is this (again)?


G-d must watch this evil and want to smite mankind for the seemingly endless evil, but for his mercy and love the world endures another day. 


Our challenge in the face of all the freakin’ evil out there is to do one good deed, say one good word, change the script of the evil doers…that’s all you and I can really do.


Change the script…mend the broken glass of the poor restaurant owner…mend the broken world. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)