Friday, April 29, 2016

F*ck You, Flint

Courtesy Rebecca Cook/Reuters
While we were distracted by bathrooms and private parts, 47 Republican members of the U.S. Senate added insult to injury for the 100,000 residents of Flint, Michigan, by voting not to provide federal assistance in their time of need.

Everybody on the planet – except, perhaps, the scruffy, bearded man who lives in the woods near my house – has probably heard about the water crisis in Flint. In short, poor decision-making by politicians led to residents being forced to drink and bathe in lead-contaminated water for several months. What’s made matters worse is watching Michigan’s Republican governor, Rick Snyder, dance clumsily around the fact that either he or his people knew about the unfolding tragedy long before it hit the international news. He’s astounded Democrats and Republicans alike by blaming virtually everyone – from “career bureaucrats” in Lansing to U.S. EPA officials and from Flint politicians to his own staff – for poisoning thousands of individuals in this predominantly African-American community. I’m surprised he hasn’t pointed a disingenuous finger at the scruffy, bearded man who lives in the woods near my house.

Anyway, federal GOP lawmakers voted last week in favor of an amendment – known as the “Coats Amendment,” named after Indiana GOP Senator Dan Coats – to an Energy/Water spending bill that gutted an advanced vehicle manufacturing program within the Energy Department. The money for that program could have been used to fund infrastructure repairs in the city. (Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid said at the time, “Today, Republicans voted to remove a funding source for legislation to tackle Flint's water crisis without offering a single dime to clean their poisoned water.")

Click here to read, “Democrats Blast GOP Senators for Vote Against Flint.”

I don’t understand how anyone can publicly flip the bird to an entire community, to go on record saying, in essence, “F*ck you, Flint. Tax breaks for millionaires and unnecessary wars are more important than helping children who are forced to drink and wash in lead-contaminated mud.”

Matthew McFarland
I also don’t understand why people aren’t making a bigger deal about the fact that not one but two individuals connected to this tragedy – Sasha Avonna Bell, one of the first to file a lawsuit over the crisis, and Flint water plant foreman Matthew McFarland – were found dead within a few days of each other. Mr. McFarland, 43, was found dead in his home on April 16 and Ms. Bell, 19, was found shot to death in her home on April 19. (No cause of death yet for Mr. McFarland, but police found no signs of foul play.) I’m not suggesting that dastardly machinations have taken place here but I’m not saying they haven’t either. It’s quite a coincidence, isn’t it?

Sasha Bell
I’d be remiss if I didn’t take this opportunity to bemoan the ridiculous position that U.S. Senate Republicans have taken relative to Merrick Garland, the POTUS’s nominee for the U.S. Supreme Court (replacing Antonin Scalia, who died last February 13). Simply put, Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has refused to allow the Senate to consider Obama’s nominee, insisting that the next president should be the one to make this appointment. This is in spite of the fact that other presidents have made judicial appointments in their last year of office, including Dubya.

Click here to read, “Do presidents stop nominating judges in final year?” at And click here to read, “Obama can appoint Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court if the Senate does nothing” in the Washington Post.

Although I think the Post author unfairly paints Democrats with the same brush as Republicans, this excerpt sums things up well:

Today, the system seems to be broken. Both parties are at fault, seemingly locked in a death spiral to outdo the other in outrageous behavior. Now, the Senate has simply refused to consider President Obama’s nomination of Judge Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court. Meanwhile, dozens of nominations to federal judgeships and executive offices are pending before the Senate, many for more than a year. Our system prides itself on its checks and balances, but there seems to be no balance to the Senate’s refusal to perform its constitutional duty.

It’s infuriating how Senate Republicans refuse to do anything or let President Obama do anything – and then complain about the dictator in the Oval Office, the imperial president who has the gall to jump over the roadblocks they’ve placed before him at every turn to actually serve the people and achieve something and earn his paycheck.

I know I’m not the only person who can remember when lawmakers came together in times of hardship or crisis, when they rejected partisanship and focused on what constituents needed. It’s not news that somewhere in the years that have passed, screwing voters has become the standard response to any crisis or proposal. What’s looked at first on each piece of legislation is the party affiliation of the sponsor(s) and whether or not Barack Obama supports it; if he does, it’s sent to a committee to die. The merits of the bill, the need it fulfills or the problem it addresses, have become secondary. Partisan gridlock has replaced compromise and getting money for nothing – while denying it to those who deserve it – has replaced forming sound public policy. Sadly, making the rich richer and the poor poorer is now the modus operandi in Lansing and Washington.

How do we fix this? Four letters, people: v-o-t-e. And just don’t be an African-American resident of Flint, Michigan.

This photo of Senate Majority Leader
Mitch McConnell, one of the most disgusting
 politicians ever, is courtesy Scott Applewhite/AP


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