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Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Is This What America Has Become?

I hate politics, and I hate what it has done to our country. Politics this election cycle has made our population more divided and hate-filled than I can remember during my six decades on this planet.

Since this country elected its first African-American president eight years ago, the Republicans in Congress have done everything in their power to block his appointments and programs. 

Someone please tell me how being inveterate obstructionists is serving the people of America. Explain to me how going on a weeks-long break while leaving important legislation and decisions hanging helps this country address its myriad problems. What does refusing to even hold hearings on the president's nominee to the US Supreme Court do to advance our country? These people are acting like a bunch of preschoolers who won't play unless they get their way.

When I was working, refusing to do the job for which one is being paid would have been grounds for termination. But members of Congress set their own rules. They are, after all, not mere mortals. They know what is best for the country and for Americans.

And have you noticed that everything is Obama's fault? It doesn't matter that the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan were started by his predecessor, a Republican. Everything that goes wrong is Obama's fault. The most recent example of this is a story posted online about a veteran who allegedly froze to death while Syrian refugees lived in warm and toasty houses paid for by the government. The trouble is, this sad story, if true, happened in SWEDEN! This minor detail appears to have been either overlooked or ignored by some of those who posted comments. What is especially interesting is that people were upset because this might happen in the US because of the shameful way US veterans have been treated by the Obama administration.

A couple of points need to be made here: Treatment of veterans seeking medical care from a VA hospital has indeed been shameful. Months-long waits to see a doctor, and manipulation of waitlists to make the problem seem less severe, are totally inexcusable. But to blame this problem on the president is ludicrous. It's not as if he issued a secret executive order telling the VA to make veterans wait a long time for an appointment and then to lie about it.  Yes, this mess happened on Obama's watch, but it is unfair to blame the entire situation on him. And sadly, people in the US, veterans or not, do freeze to death every winter.

In my opinion, sharing this story and commenting that "Americans are a minority" in the US and that Obama is letting tens of thousands of 'unvetted' immigrants into the country is designed not to educate or to inform, but to inflame and to plant seeds of fear in the populace. If by "Americans" the commenter meant 'whites,' yes, this country will reach the point in a few years when whites do become a minority of residents. Even non-whites can be, and are, Americans. But exactly what is the point of posting this story? Is it to stir up more animosity toward immigrants because of what might happen? Exactly how does the act of admitting vetted immigrants result in the failure of the VA to provide timely medical care to veterans?

And what about calls to boycott Chobani yogurt because its founder is a Kurdish immigrant from Turkey who employs 300 immigrants from Syria and other countries among his 2,000 employees? In addition to helping these immigrants support themselves and their families, he also gives a large portion of his considerable wealth to help refugees around the world. Sounds like a real threat to America, doesn't he? Would those calling for a yogurt boycott prefer that the immigrants remain jobless and thus more prone to the call of Islamic radicals to join their cause?

Consider all the hate crimes being carried out in America, whether the targets are blacks, Muslims, gays, Jews or police officers. And let's not forget all the statements from the Republican president-elect and his fellow party members demeaning women. Comments about "legitimate rape" and other equally ludicrous statements are not uncommon among this group of 'leaders.'

And just this week, Republican Congressmen -- as the first act of the new Congress -- met in secret session to approve legislation that would gut an independent ethics committee. After a huge public uproar and objection by Trump (who opposed the timing but not the content of the legislation), the bill was quickly withdrawn. Now these same 'representatives' have set their sights on repealing the Affordable Care Act, although they have no plans to replace it. If this happens, some 20 million Americans will suddenly be without medical insurance. And they plan to 'reform' both Medicare and Social Security, which means slashing benefits. I guess these fine folks don't give a damn about the millions of seniors who rely on Social Security to live, and who need Medicare to deal with their health needs. As a Republican from Nevada stated in a speech, the elderly are just a drain on society anyway.

Don't get me started on Republican efforts to sell public lands -- our lands -- to private enterprises. Or maybe the lands will be handed over to the states so they can be 'developed'. 

So this is what our once-great nation has become. Let's give even more tax breaks to the millionaires, billionaires and corporations, and take even more from those least able to afford it. 

Is this how Trump and his minions plan to 'make America great again'? One thing I know for sure -- the American public is prepared to keep a watchful eye on everything the incoming administration does and to raise hell if it tries to do anything to enrich itself to the detriment of the populace.