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I’ve Always Lived In A Great Country

by Ed Raymond | .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) | Gadfly | February 1st, 2017

Dear Mr. President:

I was born in 1932 during the Great Depression on 180 acres of sand and rocks near Little Falls, Minnesota. I played Anti-Over and Pump-Pump-Pull-Away with my 20 schoolmates from surrounding farms in a little country school for eight years. I thought I was living in a great country.

My four older brothers and sisters and I milked 20 cows before breakfast and milked the same 20 before supper. We read books by kerosene lamp. We warmed and cooked by a wood-coal stove in the kitchen and listened to the fireside chats of Franklin Delano Roosevelt in the living room heated by a fuel oil stove. When the REA(Rural Electrification Act) came around we put electricity in the barn first so the cattle and horses had good drinking water. We finally bought a small tractor so the horses could get a break. I thought I was living in a great country.

I used to sing a lot while milking cows, so at Little Falls High School I sang solos and was involved with many singing groups. During my senior year I sang in a mixed quartet in shows promoted by WCCO’s Cedric Adams featuring Minnesota’s Miss America, Bebe Shoppe. I thought I was living in a great country.

I played center on the high school football team and pitched for the baseball team. I was lucky that Moorhead State Teachers College needed a nose guard and a left-handed screwballer at the same time, so I got “recruited.” The tuition at that time was $60 per quarter because higher ed was supported in Minnesota. I knew then I was living in a great country.

I joined the Marine Corps Reserve as a college freshman, attended summer training sessions and after graduation served on active duty for three years as an infantry officer. After the Marines, I spent 36 years as a teacher, principal and administrator in the Fargo schools. After retirement, I have been writing a weekly column for 23 years.

From reading by lamp in the late 1930s, I have reached a point where I hit a computer key and my column goes to readers in Australia, Switzerland and several states. It is also published in several newspapers. I still think I’m living in a great country.

But it’s not the greatest. There are many societies in the world, particularly in Scandinavia and Europe, who take much better care of all of their citizens. The United States has never reached that level. It also has never reached a point where it can be “great again.” We are constantly improving on “great.”

Empires are great until they gradually disappear and another country takes its place. We need to make America “greater,” not “great again.” You and your Republican Congress can make it greater by listening to the American people.

The American People Speak Through Recent Polls

More than 59 million Americans receive Social Security benefits, including retired and disabled individuals, children, and widowed spouses of deceased workers. The National Academy of Social Insurance finds that 87% of Democrats, 81% of Independents and 72% of Republicans support the Social Security program--and 73% of Americans are willing to pay for it.

85% of Americans say Social Security is more important than ever for retirees because of the collapse of pensions and very erratic 401K funding and policies. About 8 in 10 are willing to pay more to keep it strong. 83% say the current maximum salary for SS payments ($118,500) should be increased dramatically.

64% of Americans want abortion to be legal in all or most cases while 32% want it to be illegal in all or in most cases.

55% do not want your wall built on the Texas-Mexico border. Putting employers of the undocumented in jail will make a much stronger and higher wall. It’s the law!

60% believe undocumented immigrants should be allowed to stay in the U.S. An additional 12% say immigrants should stay but should not be allowed to become citizens. Only 25% believe they should all be deported.

67% are not in favor of lowering taxes on the wealthy.

83% support an increase in federal infrastructure spending.

76% say prejudice against minority groups is a serious problem.

Mr. President, 43% expect violence and discrimination activities will increase during your administration.

55% favor stricter gun laws while 42% oppose. 85% favor making private gun sales and sales at gun shows subject to background checks. 91% favor background checks at all gun shows. 88% of Democrats and 79% of Republicans support background checks.

They also want to prevent people with mental illness from purchasing guns.

85% of Democrats and 55% of Republicans support a federal database which tracks all gun sales. 70% of Democrats and 48% of Republicans want assault-style weapons banned. Even 63% of Tea Party Republicans want full background checks. 85% want to ban people on the terror list or the no-fly list from buying guns. 82% say guns are a very serious problem in this country.

Isn’t it time to figure out why we lead the world with 33,000 dead and 100,000 wounded by firearms each year? Isn’t it time to shut down the gun manufacturers and their lapdog, the National Rifle Association? The NRA is now pushing a law to make silencers legal in the U.S. It’s an effort to sell more guns because firearms have to be modified for silencers. We are now averaging one mass killing a week.

Over 20% of Americans live in jurisdictions which allow adults to legally end their lives. The states of Oregon, Colorado, California, Washington, Vermont, Montana, and the District of Columbia have all passed aid-in-dying legislation.

Republicans have never considered health care to be a right of all citizens. They have been yelling “SOCIALIZED MEDICINE!!” for a century. In the seven years of Obama’s Affordable Care Act (ACA), the Republican Party has voted to repeal it about 55 times and call it a failure every day.

Although 56% of Americans say they oppose it, an overwhelming number approve of most of its provisions. 82% favor banning insurance companies from denying coverage to people with pre-existing conditions. 61% favor allowing children to stay on their parent’s insurance until age 26. 75% favor requiring companies with more than 50 employees to provide insurance for their employees. Also, a strong majority support the elimination of limits on policies, the creation of insurance exchanges, giving subsidies to individual and families to make health insurance more affordable, allowing the importation of drugs from other countries, and eliminating the law that prevents Medicare and Medicaid from negotiating drug prices with pharmaceutical companies.

77% approve of Medicare and want it to remain as is. Democrats, Republicans and Independents all support it with 2-1 margins.

63% approve of Medicaid, with Democrats at 78%, Independents at 62%, and Republicans at 47%. 62% oppose giving block grants to states to cover Medicaid although it is currently a proposal by the Republican Party. 70 million Americans are currently covered by Medicaid, although only 31 states and the District of Columbia have accepted coverages.

In the recent election, Arkansas, Arizona, California, Florida, Maine, Massachusetts, North Dakota and the District of Columbia have joined 20 other states legalizing medical marijuana. States with legal pot have already experienced fewer traffic deaths.

In the short span of a decade, 61% of Americans now approve of same-sex marriage. A decade ago only 35% were in favor. But the two political parties are starkly split with Democrats at 70% and Republicans at only 33%. 71% of conservative Republicans oppose it, while 55% of moderate and liberal Republicans approve of it! 70% of Democrats approve same-sex marriage while liberal Democrats approve it by an 84% margin.

68% of college graduates approve of it, while 46% with a high school diploma oppose it. 68% of white evangelicals oppose same-sex marriage while 64% of mainline Protestants and 58% of Roman Catholics accept it. Those with no religious affiliation approve it by an 80% margin.

63% of Americans say all aspects of homosexuality should be accepted by society while 28% say it should be “discouraged.” 66% of Roman Catholics now agree that homosexuality should be accepted while 22% might agree with the Vatican hierarchy that all gays are going to hell! 48% of Republicans agree that homosexuality should be accepted.

Because several countries collectively have enough nuclear weapons to destroy the world 50 times over, the president of the United States must use judgment in talking about nuclear policy.

The Bulletin of Atomic Scientists, composed of scientists involved with the Manhattan Project, developed what they call “The Doomsday Clock.” At its inception in 1947, it was set at seven minutes to midnight. That means seven minutes to nuclear annihilation. The board of nuclear scientists determines whether the clock will be changed when they believe something has happened to threaten the human species.

The clock has never been set closer to midnight by the actions of one person—except for you when you said the U.S. “must greatly strengthen and expand its nuclear capability.” The clock was moved to two minutes 30 seconds to midnight because of that statement, the closest it has been to Doomsday since 1953 after our first thermonuclear device test which was then followed by Russia’s first hydrogen bomb test. Perhaps you never heard of that World War II line “Loose lips sink ships.”

Although you say you have a high IQ, linguistic experts put your vocabulary at the 5th grade level. I didn’t write this letter with the intent you would read it, but I hope some of your supporters will read it and begin to understand the real issues in our democratic society.

The Splintered Psychopathic Mind

I determined quite early in the presidential campaign that you had a serious mental disorder. You are definitely not the smartest guy in the room—but you “know” you are. Everyone who defies you is a “loser.” Pundits thought you would “pivot” to common sense after winning the nomination. I knew you were incapable of revision.

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders lists the criteria for psychopaths. You fulfill practically every one. You say you hate to read, but I suggest your supporters read the Manual so they know who they are dealing with. You are clearly a psychopathic liar with limited intelligence who must win every encounter because, as you have called yourself, you are not only the smartest guy around—you are an absolute genius.

I would suggest your supporters also read Professor Aaron James serious book “Assholes: A Theory.” It’s a book about management style and leadership. Again, you fit the criteria. You are way beyond just being a thin-skinned, vindictive jerk or jackass.

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