I am outraged over these egregious government scandals! As a patriotic citizen of the United States (as Reese Witherspoon would say!) I demand answers, and immediate action to remedy these shameful episodes that are undermining our very democracy!
You may assume I am talking about Benghazi, where Republicans are taking a stand about the validity of talking points. Going balls-to-the-wall to make sure that the official story was, well, official. And while I am still waiting for them to call for the capture and prosecution of the perpetrators of the attack on the U.S. Embassy and the death of Ambassador Christopher Stevens, and three other Americans I’m sure they’ll get around to it, once they deal with the burning issue of what the press release said and when it said it. No, Benghazi is not under my craw.
You may think that I’m angry about the IRS harassing law abiding Americans, forcing them to deal with long delays and using the agency in a vengeful and punitive manner (actor Wesley Snipes notwithstanding.) To me that’s kind of like, getting mad at the wind for blowing. It may mess up your hair. But that’s just what wind does.
You might even point to the heavy-handed tactics used by the Justice Department in bypassing the courts and going directly to the phone company to get their hands on the calling records of The Associated Press. And while this does deeply concern me, and of the present “scandals” probably warrants the most scrutiny by the administration of President Obama, it is not among my top five scandals facing America right now.
The scandals that have me fired up are more life and death matters, and if you give it any thought beyond the ever-present talking points, you’ll notice that they really are the things that, left unchecked, will threaten the American way. They are the real scandals of 2013!
UNEMPLOYMENT SCANDAL – While the overall unemployment rate fell to 7.5 percent in April according to the Labor Department, the jobless rate among African Americans is still at 13.2 percent. And the rates are much higher for African American men and youth. Latinos have also been hit disproportionately by the job crunch. With millions of Americans out of work, and millions more underemployed, the real scandal is the inaction on this issue by Congress! Partisan bickering has stopped The President’s Jobs Bill and other similar measures in their tracks. The new jobs that are emerging are mostly low wage work that will not sustain a family. The real scandal is that lawmakers are playing politics and arguing over talking points while American workers and their families are starving!
THE BUDGET SCANDAL – Hello!? The sequester is on! We are already facing cuts in services that will continue to mount as time goes by. How in the world does our Congress have time to obsess over Benghazi and hold hearings on whether the IRS are jerks, when we do not have a rational, functional budget in place? If they were my kids I’d say “Quit getting distracted and do your doggone homework!” The deficit is falling at a faster rate than anyone thought according to the Congressional Budget Office. Shouldn’t this be an opportunity to get back on track and stop playing the fiscal cliff chicken game!? The scandal here is that the United States is still teetering on the brink of financial disaster and right wing pundits and lawmakers continue to play bait and switch (or create-a-scandal) with the 24-hour news cycle!
THE VIOLENCE SCANDAL – More than 31,000 Americans died of gun violence in 2010 according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. U.S. Department of Defense stats tell us that in the first seven years of the Iraq War 4,400 American Soldiers were killed – more than that die every seven weeks in the U.S. from gun violence. Yet even after twenty children and eight adults were slaughtered in Newtown, Connecticut nothing much has been done. Scandal: still no new gun control laws, even background checks appear to have failed in Congress.
THE EDUCATION SCANDAL – The United States placed 17th in the developed world for education according to a new global study by the education firm Pearson. A 2009 study found American students ranked 25th out of 34 countries in math and science. Similar studies and stats go on and on. Our schools, and teaching systems need help. The challenge is even greater for students of color. This is not a personal problem. If students in the United Stated don’t get the help they need it will ultimately impact the strength of our economy. The scandal? Every so-called sequester or budget crisis seems to require cuts to education funding, but we have deep pockets for military spending.
THE WAR SCANDAL – Even with the proposed cuts to the military budget brought on by the sequester, the military budget for our nation is massive. A lot of that money goes to private contractors to maintain overseas military bases, and “extra budgetary” wars. Even as we slash budgets and argue about how to reduce deficits by cutting so-called entitlements, education and basic services, there is almost no conversation about how we got in this gigantic budget hole – through unauthorized and unbudgeted wars! The scandal? Our seniors and our children are paying the price for the excesses of our military and humongous spending on private contractors with almost no transparency!
These are my top five scandals of 2013! It’s time to stop chasing the distraction-of-the-week or the latest made up Fox News “issue” and demand action on the things that actually matter! Is our president like Nixon? No! The real crooks are those in Congress and in the press who ignore the actual scandals and allow our nation to be led by the nose from one shiny object to another.