The albatross wrapped around America’s neck

It is truly time for change in America but how can we make this happen?

Image Credit: Javier Zarracina/Vox
In the tale of the Ancient Mariner, there is an albatross that follows a ship wherever it goes. The sailors consider this bird a sign of good luck. But the ancient mariner, for reasons of his own, shoots and kills the bird. The sailors are horrified and they wrap the dead albatross around the ancient mariner’s neck as a form of shame and punishment.
America, unfortunately, has an albatross wrapped around its neck; perhaps a form of punishment for its people’s apathy and failure to rise up and speak out against its government when those in the government refuse to do the will of the people.
And it also may be a form of punishment because so many Americans made the colossal mistake of helping the Republican Party and Trump take complete control of this government.
The common interpretation of the phrase “albatross wrapped around one’s neck” is, “a heavy burden that prevents one from achieving success.” That’s exactly what is happening in our country. This albatross is representative of the GOP and Donald Trump, a heavy burden that prevents America from propelling itself into the 21st Century.
That’s why we see no positive and constructive actions being taken and a total lack of creativity and innovative thinking.  This is a political party and a president who are caught up in a state of negativity, divisiveness, and destructiveness.
The best and the brightest Americans have no inclination to enter into this country’s thoroughly corrupted political system, one in which they would have to continually beg for campaign contributions and then do the bidding of those donors. They see a contaminated Congress and want no part of it.
So, absent the best of Americans, this country has to settle for the likes of Donald J. Trump,
America should have a president who provides it with strong, visionary leadership and a dogged determination to attack and solve this nation’s many problems; but that’s not the case. Trump has no time to attack these problems because he is very busy attacking his legions of enemies.
What he needs to do, but he won’t, is to shove his Twitter account aside and at least attempt to communicate with the American people in the way that presidents Roosevelt, Eisenhower, and Kennedy did. They knew how to connect with the people and it enhanced their presidencies.   
When is the last time that we have seen a U.S. president carry out a foreign policy agenda in which he goes out of his way to alienate our most loyal European and UK nations, and their leaders? We need to establish even greater ties with them, not drive them away.
He can’t seem to get along with his fellow leaders, those in France, Germany, the UK, and other Euro countries. He turned the G7 conference into a big bust and then made a pathetic appearance in the UK where he didn’t’ bring even the slightest degree of diplomacy with him.
Starting a trade war is totally misguided thinking; No one ever wins that kind of war. He threatened to place tariffs against the Euro countries but backed off quickly when he became aware that.they would strongly retaliate with tariffs of their own.  
He criticized NATO and accused other member nations of not contributing their fair share of the expenses of that organization. He sounds like he would like very much to withdraw from this organization, just as he withdrew the U.S. from the Iranian Nuclear Agreement and the Paris Climate Accord.
We badly need a president who will strive to unite the people of this country, who will heal the wounds that exist between different elements of our society. These deep divisions must be reversed. But we see none of that happening.  We see a president who appears to be determined to divide this country even further.
He is creating a racial and ethnic divide in America. His veiled and sometimes direct statements about other races and ethnic groups are causing more and more resentment by those who are his targets, namely African Americans, Hispanics, and Muslims. White supremacy anyone?
There is also a deep divide between Democrats and Republicans and he is doing nothing whatsoever to try to bring the two sides together. He wants nothing to do with Democrats and has never seriously tried to get their cooperation on some special project such as the repair and rebuilding of our national infrastructure.
For those who strongly support him and do not agree that he is destructive let’s provide some examples of his detrimental policies and actions:
First, there are his policies relative to the EPA, the Environmental Agency. He initially appointed Scott Pruitt, former Atty,. General of Oklahoma, as director of the EPA; and that was an ominous sign of bad things to come. Pruitt wasted no time in doing away with or watering down important EPA rules and regulations, especially those that President Obama had put in place;
These were critically important rules and regulations that were designed to protect US citizens in many ways and to do everything possible to deal with the problem of climate change and global warming. The negative actions that he has taken represent irresponsibility of the highest degree.
Here are just some of Pruitt’s most egregious actions relative to the EPA. The following examples of his actions were taken from this New York Times article, entitled, “76 Environmental Rules on the Way out under Trump.”
He canceled a requirement for oil and gas companies to report methane emissions.
Then he loosened a Clinton-era rule designed to limit tox emissions from major industrial polluters.
Next, he proposed the repeal of the Clean Power Plan, which set strict limits on carbon emissions from existing coal and gas-fired power plants. Then in June 2018, a new, much more watered down plan was drafted.
The EPA drafted changes to fuel economy standards for cars and light trucks that would have reduced tailpipe emissions.
Pruitt changed rules for oil and gas facilities to allow methane leaks to go unrepaired during scheduled or emergency shutdowns and proposed withdrawing guidelines that reduce dangerous emissions from existing sources.
He opened nearly all of America’s coastal waters to offshore oil and gas drilling.
Next, there was the approval of the Keystone XL oil pipeline coming from Canada, that had been rejected by President Obama. Then we saw the approval of the Dakota oil pipeline which had been blocked by the Obama administration.
The EPA under Pruitt revoked Obama flood standards for federal infrastructure road and bridge projects. It revoked an Obama order which set a goal of cutting the federal government’s greenhouse gas emissions by 40% over 10 years.
It Rejected a proposed ban on a potentially harmful pesticide, chlorpyrifo, and limited the scope of a 2016 law mandating safety assessments for potentially toxic chemicals, like dry-cleaning solvents and paint strippers.
Ir reversed an Obama rule that required braking system upgrades for “high hazard” trains hauling flammable liquids, such as oil and ethanol.
His EPA proposed the elimination of two programs limiting children’s exposure to lead paint, which is known to damage brain and nervous system development.
It suspended a rule, known as Waters of the United States, that protected tributaries and wetlands under the Clean Water Act; then delayed by two years an EPA rule regulating limits on toxic discharge, which can include mercury, from power plants into public waterways.
Can you believe what these environment destructionists, Trump and Pruitt, deliberately did to increase pollution in our country and do massive harm to the entire planet?  
Talk about being destructive; instead of seeing the development of a single-payer, universal health care system which would provide medical coverage for every American, we saw the obstructionists in our Congress team up with Trump in the attempt to tear down Obamacare. And, they almost succeeded in stripping away the medical coverage of 30 million or more Americans.
Trump never talks about the 43 million Americans living in poverty, the 47 million dependent on food stamps, and homeless Americans, including military veterans. Instead, he concentrates on assisting the wealthiest Americans, as we saw when he gave them and corporations the lion’s share of the $1.5 trillion tax reductions.
We need to talk about the destruction of families that is happening because of the Trump/Sessions’ plan that allows illegal immigrant parents to be separated from their children. Also the cruel treatment these children are sometimes given when they are sent to detention centers and forced to live in caged in areas.
How can this president and some of his appointees be so very cruel? If these immigrants are not to be allowed to stay in this country then just turn them around and deport them and their children. If the parents are detained for some reason that could take time to resolve then still keep them with their children. What kind of madness is this? This is Inhumanity of a very high degree!
It is truly time for change in America but how can we make this happen? Obviously, we must start with the November elections but this election cannot and must not be the same old, typical election in which we have a minimal, pathetic voter turnout.
This must be a revolutionary election, the “Mother of all elections”, with a massive voter turnout such as America has never seen. And when this happens that albatross will be removed from the neck of America.


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Michael Payne is an independent progressive activist. His writings deal with social, economic, political and foreign policy issues; and especially with the great dangers involved with the proliferation of perpetual war, the associated defense industry, and the massive control that Corporate America holds over this government and our election process; all which are leading this nation down the road to eventual financial ruin if the conditions are not reversed. He is a graduate of Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois and a U.S. Army veteran.