Category Archives: Immigration

Make America Good Again

MAGA blue good again

I have to admit to being a bit tired from the firehosed gaslighting news of the week.  I am tired of explications of how Republicans in Georgia and North Dakota, being unwilling to submit their ideas to the voters of their respective states have decided instead to play untoward games with the electoral process.  Too many Black and other people of color voting? — just put their registration applications on hold, close their polling places, limit their voting hours…. Too many Native Americans voting?  Simple — require physical addresses for places that don’t have home mail delivery. Bonus: Rural voters may also be excluded from voting if they, too, “live” in their P.O. Boxes.

Here’s a clue. If it is necessary to play these kinds of games in order to win elections then it is quite possible the party doesn’t have a strong and appealing message for voters.

I am also tired of media whining about Democrats without messages.  I’ve no apologies on offer if the Democrats aren’t saying what the punditry want them to say, however I’m willing to guess that they must be saying something effectively or the GOP wouldn’t be fear mongering and vote suppressing to beat the band.

Democrats are talking about Health Care.  They are speaking about Republican plans to demolish the Affordable Care Act if they retain control of Congress.  They are speaking about Republican announced plans to shave Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid (in order to pay for their tax cuts.)  They are speaking about comprehensive immigration policy reform.  If they are not speaking is easily digestible sound bites and bumper sticker slogans, then why can’t the media spend the required one or two minutes to explain that there are some issues that don’t lend themselves to bumper sticker solutions?

What the media appear to bemoan is that Democrats aren’t “marketing” their ideas, not that they don’t have any.  Consider for a moment what happens when one side is all marketing and the other side wants to talk about governing.  Media loves media.  Marketing recognizes good marketing.  Few want to address the issues of governing, and thus we get Republicans who simply can’t govern.  They don’t like policy arguments, they don’t like nuanced discussions; they don’t like governing. They don’t like government.   They are rather like cooks, who once placed in a chef’s kitchen, want to do nothing more than make hamburgers.  They haven’t had many original ideas in decades.

Entitlement Reform?” That’s merely the latest marketing slogan/dog whistle for dismantling Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid.  Once more with feeling: We are entitled to these programs because we’ve been paying into them all our working lives.

“Eliminate waste, fraud, and abuse?”  This is more “Starve the Beast.”  We’ve been listening to the Starve the Beast rhetoric for decades.  The GOP idea is to spend  the money on the military-industrial complex, shut down revenue by cutting corporate taxation, and then announce we “have to” cut social safety net programs because we can no longer afford them.  Heaven forefend they’d discuss raising corporate taxes or closing loopholes to secure additional revenue!  These hoary ideas are as old as Donkey Kong.

Instead of listening to the old, stale, ideas rehashed and re-marketed for the electorate, how about we keep repeating:

  1. Health care is essential.  No one “decides” to get sick or get hit by a car.  Everyone should be able to afford health care insurance which actually covers health care expenses.
  2. Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid are social safety net programs which have proven successful.  They are expensive, but they are also essential if we want to avoid our elders in dire poverty, our elders dying without health care because they are priced out of the private market, and our fellow citizens without health care services such that they do become a burden on their families and their communities.
  3. Immigration policy reform is possible if we take the fearmongering racism out of the discussion.  We actually had a proposal enacted by the Senate. However, after the radicals began bellowing “amnesty” every time someone mentioned the notion that people who’ve made their lives here, and became productive members of the community should have a path to citizenship, the plan failed.  If the racists and xenophobes would pipe down we could probably get to a workable solution.
  4. The economy could be better.  It would be a lot better if we would stop rewarding the top 0.1% for investing in whatever happens to be the Stock of the Quarter and start rewarding people who actually spend their money buying things and services … homes, vehicles, clothing, food, movie tickets, electronics, etc.  We know who these people are, they are working, they are middle class, they are everyday Americans, and for the most part they are good people.
  5. We can get back to being Good People.  No, we don’t separate children from their parents at our southern border!  No, we don’t countenance the harassment and abuse of women.  No, we don’t condone the murder of our journalists in a Saudi consulate in Istanbul — or anywhere else.  No, we don’t declare Canadian dairy farmers a “threat to our national security.”  No, we don’t think all the citizens of Mexico are drug dealers and rapists.  No, we don’t think neo-nazis are “very fine people.”

So, let’s Make America Good Again.  Vote.

 

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Filed under Immigration, Politics, Vote Suppression

Back Up and Running: Because Things Aren’t Changing

Okay, now the Internet connectivity is back … as in there wasn’t any Internet Connectivity for a few days … it’s time to get back up and running.  And, time to get back to nagging, entreating, nagging, begging, nagging, pleading, nagging…  it’s time to VOTE.

Why?  Because stuff’s not changing.

There are still children who are separated from their families at our borders.  The government has been told to reunite them.  Has been ordered to reunite them.  However, when cruelty is combined with incompetence we have a situation in which deported parents may lose their children to adoption. [NBC]  There was a two year old girl called to an immigration hearing. Two years old. 2. [NYT]  A five year old girl was persuaded to sign away her rights. [NewYorker]  Five years old. 5.

We know what two year old children can do, the average ones are walking and pulling their toys around; they climb on furniture; they can identify objects when the objects are named for them;  begins to know that objects have permanence even if they are covered by three or four layers.  And we put a child such as this in an immigration hearing?  Who on this planet could possibly believe this is right?

Four and five year olds?  We’re usually happy if they put sentences of more than five words together, if they can correctly name at least four colors, if they can draw some basic geometric shapes, if they use future tense, if they can count ten objects, and if they can name basic common household items.  And we want a five year old to understand a Flores bond?  Really.  Who on this planet could possibly believe this is right?

We could have comprehensive immigration policy reform coming from the Legislative branch of our Federal government, but we won’t get it as long as Republicans are content to shove show-pieces through the process which don’t address the essential cruelty and racism of current administration policy.   We won’t get comprehensive immigration policy reform accomplished unless and until Republicans no longer control the Legislative branch. Period. Full. Stop.

There are still children in our elementary schools learning shelter in place procedures for school shootings.   Additionally, it’s been over a year since the massacre at the Las Vegas music concert.  Still there are no bans on bump stocks; we’re told to wait patiently there’s something in the works… how long does it have to be in the works?  It’s been a year for crying out loud, for crying in silence, for crying on each others’ shoulders for young lives lost, church members slain, concert goers murdered, office workers killed, journalists shot and fatally wounded…  However, as long as the National Rifle Association and its myrmidons in the House and Senate refuse to consider common sense gun ownership, storage, and sales laws we’ll still be crying out loud.

We won’t get rational gun safety laws enacted in this country unless and until the Republicans and their NRA (Russian money) allies are no longer able to spread fear, anxiety, and money around the electorate.  Vote them out, and we can start to make sense, and we can stop crying out loud.

There are still children and families at risk of financial and physical peril for a lack of secure health care insurance coverage.   And the Republicans’ answer? Let people buy junk insurance that doesn’t cover pre-existing conditions, doesn’t meet the standards of coverage for the ACA, and doesn’t protect families from medical bill bankruptcies.  This isn’t the solution — this is a return to the situation that created problems for families in the first place.

There are students who are graduating from colleges and universities with crushing levels of student debt.   The New York Federal Reserve has been trying to tell us for years now that student debt levels have a tangible impact on our economy.   We yawn over the statistics, shiver when the statistics include someone or some family we know, and worry when the children are our own.  Will they be able to make a down payment on a house by age 30?  Some 60% of them may not be.  Will they be able to make long term purchases for automobiles and appliances?  At what borrowing rates?  Are we investing in the one commodity that can truly guarantee the success of this nation in the future — our children?  Right now… not so much.

We could do this, but we’ll have to stop buying in to the Republican line that children, especially other people’s children, are merely expenses, and not investments.  GOP politicians would have us believe we can’t afford to educate our children — Think of the Taxes! — the reality is we can’t afford not to.  We need those schools (and colleges) to educate them, those libraries to encourage them, those park and recreational facilities to help keep them healthy so we end up with a generation of educated, healthy, and productive members of the next work force.  Without that, as the saying goes, “we got nothing going for us.”

So we should vote our hopes not our fears.  Vote our hope for immigrant children and babies (and their families,) hope for the safety and well being of our children, hope for next generation’s productivity and wealth creation. The optimist may say he believes the elections will turn out “right.”  The hopeful person understands that while “things may turn out right in the end,”  the end is better achieved when hope is supported by action.  Act. Vote. Change. It can start happening in 2018.

 

 

 

 

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Filed under Guinn, Gun Issues, Health Care, health insurance, Heller, Immigration, Nevada politics, Politics

Our Outrage Was Insufficient: Tent City Terrors

If we thought the outrage was sufficient to make the current administration reverse its inhumane immigration policies — we were wrong.  This from the New York Times two days ago:

In shelters from Kansas to New York, hundreds of migrant children have been roused in the middle of the night in recent weeks and loaded onto buses with backpacks and snacks for a cross-country journey to their new home: a barren tent city on a sprawling patch of desert in West Texas.

In their former residences the children had access to schools, and to legal assistance. In their new housing they are given workbooks (read: busy work) left ungraded or marked, and they have limited access to any legal assistance they might require.

How many children? 1,600 so far.  The capacity of the “tent city” to which the children were sent is now estimated at 3,800.  The Department of Health and Human Services says these transfers are being done to protect the children from trafficking and other abuses. Not. So. Fast.

“The roughly 100 shelters that have, until now, been the main location for housing detained migrant children are licensed and monitored by state child welfare authorities, who impose requirements on safety and education as well as staff hiring and training.

The tent city in Tornillo, on the other hand, is unregulated, except for guidelines created by the Department of Health and Human Services. For example, schooling is not required there, as it is in regular migrant children shelters.” [NYT]

This doesn’t quite square with DHHS FAQs on the subject of housing and services:

UAC shelters provide housing, nutrition, physical and mental healthcare, educational services, and recreational activities such as television and sports. They provide an environment on par with facilities in the child welfare system that house American children.

The facilities are operated by nonprofit grantees that are certified by state authorities responsible for regulating such facilities housing children.

The statement above tends to summarize the guidelines from the Department of Health and Human Services, (see below) but the situation in Texas certainly doesn’t sound like it comports with the requirements:

“Care providers must conduct an educational assessment within 72-hours of a UAC’s admission into the facility in order to determine the academic level of the child and any particular needs he or she may have. Care providers must provide educational services based on the individual academic development, literacy level, and linguistic ability of each unaccompanied alien child.

Each unaccompanied alien child must receive a minimum of six hours of structured education, Monday through Friday, throughout the entire year in basic academic areas (Science, Social Studies, Math, Reading, Writing, Physical Education, and English as a Second Language (ESL), if applicable). Care providers adapt or modify local educational standards to develop curricula and assessments, based on the average length of stay for UAC at the care provider facility, and provide remedial education and after school tutoring as needed. Learning materials must reflect cultural diversity and sensitivity. Any academic breaks must be approved in advance by the care provider’s Project Officer. In no event will any academic break be approved that is over two (2) weeks in duration.

Unaccompanied alien children may be separated into class groups according to their academic development, level of literacy, and linguistic ability rather than by chronological age. As needed, unaccompanied alien children must be provided an opportunity for learning advancement, such as independent study, special projects, pre-GED classes and college preparatory tutorials, among others. Academic reports and progress notes are included and updated in the unaccompanied alien child’s case file which is either sent to another care provider in the event of a transfer or released to the unaccompanied alien child upon discharge.

In short, if the children were left in “regular migrant shelters” then the guidance referenced above would be required, but it seems not to apply to the Tornillo facility, perhaps because the latter is considered “short term” or a transitory station for those who are to be released shortly?  This calls up the question: If the youngsters, presumably ages 13-17), are soon to be released then WHY move them at all?  And, the question about why move them at night is answered in the New York Times article: The authorities wanted to minimize the youngsters’ ability to run away.

Right now is as good a time as any to recall that:

(1) The Trump Administration hasn’t really done much to alter the inhumanity of its immigration policies, and certainly not in respect to our treatment of children.

(2) The Administration is increasing, not decreasing, its efforts to penalize, stigmatize, and traumatize people who approach our ports of entry seeking asylum. It is legal to seek asylum.  It is unconscionable to narrow the justification for seeking asylum such that almost no one becomes eligible.

(3) It is unconstitutional, immoral, indecent, and inhumane to separate children from their parents.  The Administration still has not fully complied with the court ordered reunification of parents and children.  The executive branch made a hash of the original plan, hoped no one would notice what a debacle the policy created, and then sought to have the ACLU become responsible for fixing the Administration’s mess.

(4) The Administration is currently seeking to hold some children indefinitely.  Indefinitely.

(5) The Administration is relying on the services of BCFS to provide the expertise and governance of the shelter.  BCFS advertises its world wide connections, but its government partnerships are mostly with Texas, along with Nevada, Washington, and Maine, and the City of Los Angeles.  It also lists various federal agencies among its partners.  There is certainly nothing intrinsically wrong with agencies farming out projects to non-profits, it’s done all the time in a variety of circumstances.  However, the old business adage always applies: “You can’t control what you don’t own.”

The bottom line appears to be that the administration is forging an immigration policy predicated on blatant racism (no Brownish Tinged People Need Apply) and founded on the concept that to make America great again America should be White.  How can we be great if we allow people to come from “Sh*thole Countries?”

It’s time to hear, very clearly, from our federal office seeking candidates — for example Senator Dean Heller (R-NV).  At what point do we stop advocating stop-gap partial fixes which “pronounce” the displeasure of Congress with the notion of separating children from their families, and take up REAL immigration policy reform?

When do we do the right thing?  Protect Dreamers?  Allow a path to citizenship for qualified productive members of our society? Protect naturalized citizens from petty prosecutions and pointless deportations?  Protect natural born citizens from ridiculously racist harassment? Cherish the children who come to us seeking our help and shelter?

“Take away from me the noise of your songs; to the melody of your harps I will not listen.  But let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an everflowing stream.” (Amos 5:23-24)

In other words, when do we cut the song and dance and do the right thing?

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Filed under Human Rights, Immigration, Politics

559 Questions for Senator Dean Heller

On June 18, 2018 Senator Dean Heller (R-NV) was pleased to let us all know he had taken a baby step away from the Trumpian child separation policy at the US – Mexico border:

“Senator Heller doesn’t support separating children from their families, and he believes that this issue highlights just how broken our immigration system is and why Congress must act to fix it.” [LVRJ]

As of August 9, 2018 Time reports there are still 559 migrant children (of an original 2,551) who have not yet been reunited with their parents. 386 parents have already been deported.  There are 26 parents for which the government says it has no information at all.  The authorities say they’ve heard from 299 parents in the previous week.  As of August 9, 2018 the Trump mis-administration still had no plan in place to reunite children with their parents.

Then, on August 10th NPR reports:

“More than 360 immigrant children in U.S. custody are still separated from parents who were deported by the U.S. government. About 200 immigrant children are still without their parents for other reasons. This afternoon, the government presented its plan to San Diego federal judge Dana Sabraw about how to reunify deported parents with their children. Part of that plan includes a heavy lift for the ACLU, which brought the case to reunify the families.”

Wait a minute. Why is the “heavy lift” assigned to the American Civil Liberties Union?  Simple, the administration wanted to make the ACLU assume the burden of proof that the parents really wanted their children back.  The ACLU responded:

“…they say that the parents who have been deported were either confused or in some cases coerced, tricked into agreeing to deportation because they believed that meant they’d be reunified with their kids. And the ACLU has consistently pointed to the fact that, you know, in large part, the government has really – they’ve had to have been ordered for most of this to be able to act. The government really hasn’t done much willingly. But the ACLU is also privately acknowledging at this point that they also need to talk to these parents individually. And they recognize that they’re going to be part of this solution to reunify these parents.” [NPR]

Focus: The administration officials haven’t done much. They’ve had to be forced to do what little they have done, and now they want the burden shifted to the attorneys for the plaintiffs… I haven’t been to law school, however, this sounds more than a little like the southbound product of my ever faithful metaphorical northbound bull.

Meanwhile back on July 25, 2018 Senator Heller spoke on the Senate Floor about the separation policy:

Heller said on the Senate floor today that he’d heard concerns from more than 3,500 constituents over the family separations. Thousands of children, some still in diapers, have been separated from their family members as a result of the Trump policy.

“My constituents have spoken to families split apart at the borders and some are being held in Southern Nevada,” he said. “And they are, frankly, asking for help. So being reunified with their children is their top priority.” [LVSun]

It doesn’t seem to have been a top priority for the administration.  August 10th was also the day the federal authorities finally announced they had a “plan,” or at least the outline of a plan. [MJ]  That would be one day after it was reported that ICE withheld phone numbers of deported parents from the ACLU attorneys. [HuffPo]

We have three touch points here, and for the sake of clarity let’s note that on the first touch point, June 18th, Senator Heller is his usual vague self — the policy is bad and Congress should fix it.  Nothing more specific is on offer.  By the second touch point, July 25th, Senator Heller has signed on to some legislation which purports to “solve the problem.”  It doesn’t address the general issue of immigration reform, and frankly does little beyond repeat the protections of the Constitution already in place — children should not be separated from parents during the administrative and/or legal review of their cases.  Finally, the court ordered plan (or at least the outline of the government’s plan, by August 10th obviates the need for Senator Heller’s showcase bit of legislative co-sponsorship.  Courts have ordered what the Senate couldn’t get around to doing, i.e. ordering the administration not to separate children and parents, and not to remove them (especially out of the country) during the adjudication of their cases.

Return with us now to another touch point.  It is June 27, 2013 and the US Senate has just passed a compromise Comprehensive Immigration Reform bill.  The measure included:

The Gang of Eight bill would essentially revamp every corner of U.S. immigration law, establishing a 13-year pathway to citizenship for millions of undocumented immigrants, with several security benchmarks that have to be met before they can obtain a green card. The measure would not only increases security along the border, but requires a mandatory workplace verification system for employers, trying to ensure no jobs are given to immigrants who are not authorized to work in the United States.  It also includes a new visa program for lesser-skilled workers – the product of negotiations between the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and labor unions. And it shifts the country’s immigration policies away from a family-based system to one that is focused on more on work skills.

Sound familiar?  The 2013 bill had many of the features still under consideration today, and Senator Heller was a “yes” vote on the comprehensive bill on June 27, 2013. Thus it seems fair to ask, if the Senator held a favorable view of the 2013 bill then why has he not encouraged, sponsored, co-sponsored, or promoted an updated version since?  Instead, Heller charges that comprehensive immigration reform isn’t possible because Democrats don’t want immigrants to work. [TP]

In an audio recording of a March 2 speech, obtained by Politico and released Friday, Heller claimed that no progress can be made on immigration reform for the roughly 11 million undocumented immigrants in the United States. “Republicans want illegal immigrants to work but not vote. Democrats want them not to work, but to vote. Think about that for a minute,” he told the audience. “That’s why we can’t come together on a solution for this.”

This statement is demonstrably false.

Well, we could “think about that for a minute,” and reach the same conclusion.  Senator Heller is playing to the Trumpian audience.  The statement is, in fact, demonstrably false; but useful as part of a dog-whistle/bull horn/fire siren stump speech to the faithful.

Here is where the incumbent Senator gets himself entangled in his own rhetoric.  It’s hard to generate sympathy for his protestations concerning the Zero Tolerance/Maximum Pain policy of separating parents and children at the southern border when it’s noted he’s perfectly willing to play the “immigrants as the ignorant tools of corrupt Democrats” card.

It’s also difficult to find any reason for a round of applause for his co-sponsorship of a fairly narrow, and decidedly right wing 2018 version of immigration policy reform, when doesn’t come all that close to what he was willing to support in 2013.   The hard sad fact is that comprehensive immigration reform bills passed the Senate in 2006 and 2013 and failed to find sufficient support among House Republicans to pass them. [Politifact]

We could come to a solution on this if we ignored (or replaced) Senators such as Dean Heller who wish to beat their drums while continuing to blow on their dog whistles, and elected members of the US Congress who would be willing to take up the issue as it was addressed in 2006 and 2013 — and DO something.

 

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Filed under Immigration, Nevada politics, Politics

Thank You For Your Service, Sort Of…

To all the flag-wavin’, flag-clutchin’, flag-wearin’, flag-supportin’ members of the the GOP,  and this includes senatorial candidate Dean Heller,  here’s some unsolicited advice on how to truly be supportive of our Armed Forces and veterans. Some of these don’t translate well into bumper stickers or shouted slogans, but they just might be more effective.

#1. Let’s start with NOT separating from service members of the military and reservists who happen to be immigrants on a path to citizenship. [USAT]  For crying out loud, these people are VOLUNTEERS.  They have volunteered to place themselves deliberately in harm’s way to protect the safety and security of the rest of us.  Aren’t these exactly the kind of people we want to join us as citizens of these United States?

#2.  Let’s stop creating deportation issues for some 11,800 members of our military families [MilTimes] and let’s stop deporting the spouses of our veterans [NBC].  Where, please, are the voices of our members of the US Senate — yes, Senator Heller, this includes you — and the voices of our Representatives in the House?  And, yes, Rep. Amodei (R-NV2) this means you as well.  Please don’t try to convince me of your love and respect for active duty personnel and veterans while you allow them to worry about the deportation status of their spouses — and the mothers and fathers of their children.

#3.  Let’s start paying members of the military what they are worth rather than beginning the calculation with what we think is the least amount we can pay and still meet budget restrictions. For example, the pay increase for member of the US military for 2017 was 2.1%, and granted that’s above the “austerity years” previously, but the inflation rate for 2017 was also 2.1% so our members of the armed forces didn’t actually get a raise in terms of real purchasing power.  The latest bill includes a 2.6% pay raise. Will this cover inflation rates? [Mil.com] [FedPay] Can I get an “Amen!” from Senator Heller? From Representative Amodei?  I’m not hearing anything…

#4. And, while we are discussing purchasing power… Remember back in April 2018 when the White House floated a proposal to cut SNAP benefits? [Mil.com]  Those cuts would effect members of the US military. [Mil.com]  That argument was still going on as of July 5, 2018. [SanAntonioC] How about we decide not to have this argument at all. How about paying members of the US military enough so SNAP benefits are unnecessary, or if they must be then making sure military families have sufficient resources to put food on their tables? This would seem to be a very supportive thing to advocate? Yes? Senator Heller? Yes? Representative Amodei?

Meanwhile, what’s happening in the current legislation headed to the Oval Office [USNI]  on Basic Housing Allowances? Whenever Senator McConnell says things including the phrase “more opportunity,” I begin to wonder Whose Opportunity to do what.  On Tricare? On dental treatment plans?

In short, let’s stop talking about “thank you for your service,” and “support the troops,” and DO something that allows them to be thankful they joined the US Armed Forces.  If we truly appreciate their service then we ought to be willing to pay for it.

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Filed under Amodei, Heller, Immigration, Military pay, Nevada politics, No Child Left Behind, Politics

There Never Was Any Plan: The Story of the entire Orange Blossom Administration

Return with us now to those days of yesterday, if not exactly yesterday, when the Trump declared his health care plan would be wonderful — “No one will lose coverage. There will be insurance for everybody. Healthcare will be a “lot less expensive” for everyone — the government, consumers, providers.”  [Politico]  That was March 13 2017.  Well now, some people have lost coverage, it isn’t going to be any less expensive to get health insurance. In fact, health insurance premiums are expected to increase in California, Connecticut, and Pennsylvania, and it is just as bad elsewhere:

Rate filings to date show that many insurers are requesting large premium increases for 2019. The average requested rate increase was 30.2 percent in Maryland and 24 percent in New York state. Most insurers have specifically cited the repeal of the individual mandate in their actuarial memorandums. In New York, insurers attributed about half their large requested increases to mandate repeal. Even in states with small rate increases or overall decreases, insurer filings state that premiums next year would be significantly lower in the absence of federal sabotage. For example, BlueCross BlueShield of Vermontrequested a relatively small 7.5 percent increase for 2019 but said that its request would have been 2.2 percentage points lower if not for mandate repeal. Peter V. Lee, the director of Covered California, said that his state’s average rate increase of 9 percent “could—and should—have been much lower.” [CAP]

Let’s be serious here. There wasn’t a health care plan, not one with any specifics. There was a ton of “repeal and replace” rhetoric.  Trumpian campaign slogans never translated into much more than the continual erosion of Affordable Care Act provisions in favor of the insurance industry.  There never was a comprehensive plan to deal with market problems, industry sector issues, and the health care needs of some 330 million people in this country.  This administration doesn’t PLAN.

But wait, wasn’t there an “infrastructure plan?”  It would seem there should be since we keep having infrastructure weeks?   On February 11, 2018 the administration rolled out its grand infrastructure proposal [CNN] albeit without any suggestion about how this would be paid for;

“At the Conference of Mayors in January, Gribbin explained that the Trump administration would not be proposing a specific funding mechanism for the infrastructure plan, saying that will be a conversation with Congress. But that discussion just got a lot harder following the passage of a tax plan that is expected to expand the deficit by over a trillion dollars over ten years.” [MoneyCnn]

So, we got “conversations with Congress” about how to implement the “infrastructure plan,” but no infrastructure plan with much of anything except sops to for profit job training centers, lowered work rule and environmental permitting standards, and precious little else.  There never was a real, a comprehensive, plan in place such that the negotiations (or conversations) with Congress would ever be on a firm foundation. Surprised? We shouldn’t be.

Perhaps we should have been impressed with the trade plan?  After all, isn’t this supposed to put America First?  However, our friends and trading partners have been reduced to using color coded cue cards to explain high school level trade concepts to an American president [Marketwatch] and he doesn’t give any appearance he understands  fundamental concepts.  Reason sums up one area of dissonance:

“As Veronique de Rugy noted here a couple of weeks ago, “This is one policy area where he’s been remarkably consistent over the years.” Even when Trump pays lip service to free markets, she observed, it’s with the aim of increasing exports and reducing imports so as to bring down the number he thinks crystallizes our failure and lack of resolve. Trump is not talking like a mercantilist in service of free trade; he is talking like a free trader in service of mercantilism.” [Reason]

Let’s just operate on the simpler assumption — he doesn’t understand the subject; he doesn’t really have a plan; and, all the “motion” that passes for “action” in this administration’s trade policy is tantamount to economic and monetary plate juggling.  As long as he can make grand announcements about vague promises to eventually do something, and none of the plates fall, he’s all good.  Witness the EU deal:  “In reality, the Europeans gave up little except their prior refusal to negotiate under threat. Juncker’s pledge that the E.U. would import more U.S.-grown soybeans, for instance, formalized something that was likely to happen anyway.” [NewYorker]  Always assume: There is NO Plan.

And, about that Immigration enforcement policy which was supposed to have a plan to reunite children with their parents?   As of June 22, 2018 the Trump Mis-administration had to admit it had NO PLAN to reunite all children with their parents. [NYMag]  Really?  Well, not really completely opaque since the policy was all about punishing people who had the temerity to appeal for asylum in the United States who happened to be people with slightly darker skin than their Caucasian cohorts.   Thus if the policy didn’t meet the needs of the children and their parents, then the children could be conveniently re-categorized as “ineligible”  meaning the mis-administration might side step any accountability for their plight. [MSNBC]

Pick a topic, any topic.  Speak of environmental protections, clean drinking water, the protection of wildlife, or the protection of consumers from banking institution predation.  Speak of plans to provide better housing for married members of the US Armed Forces? Speak of plans to offer better, more efficient educational, medical, or dental services to Veterans?  Speak of plans to insure more cities are not plagued with lead in their water supplies?  Speak of how to provide long term assistance to American ranchers and farmers, and to promote the global trade in the crops and animals they raise for sale? Speak of how to research, study, and restrain the levels of gun violence in this country so that we are a safer place for ourselves and our children?  Speak of how we address matters of election security? To address Russian infiltration and attacks on our political institutions?  Pick a topic. Any topic.  Then rest unassured, this administration HAS NO PLAN.

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Filed under Health Care, health insurance, Immigration, Infrastructure, Politics, trade deficit

Our Weekly Fresh Horrors

Gee, what fresh horror would make for a nice blog post today?

#1. We could start with this analysis of Orange Blossom’s perfectly inane trade policy, as expounded by conservative economist Walter Block in the not-so-failing New York Times:

“The negative consequences of a trade war will soon be felt, if they aren’t already. Even if the United States avoids trade conflict with Europe, tariffs on steel and aluminum from China, Mexico and Canada will raise domestic prices, hurting consumers. And the administration is likely to find itself subsidizing voters who purchase these items or who are hurt when other countries slap tariffs on American goods in retaliation — mainly farmers, manufacturers and builders.”

Perhaps the color coded cue cards were insufficient to explain BASIC economics to our special Orange Blossom during his meetings with EU officials.  Is there an emoji for putting both of one’s hands palm forward into one’s face? I could use one right now.

#2.  Also from the New York Times — the Feds announce they’ve met the deadline for reuniting children with their migrant parents. However, there’s this little Oops paragraph in the article:

“But in a day that saw government officials and community volunteers scrambling to bring families together, multiple reports of failed reunifications raised questions about whether the deadline had in fact been met. Further confusing the issue was a change in the way the government tallied its progress, with the latest report counting children rather than parents, a reversal from prior reports.”

So, if they can’t reunify families, then they simply reclassify the children and/or parents to say they aren’t eligible for reunification!  Whee. How convenient.   Yes Sir, I could say I really stuck to my pledge to make healthier eating choices — IF we don’t count the two chocolate chip cookies, the can of Pepsi, the chips, the cheeseburger, the … you get the idea. There are still some 700 children not reunited with family.  And when the ADL is putting out warnings about what happens to children separated from parents, as in what happened during the Holocaust, maybe we should be paying attention.  I really do need that double face-palm emoji thing.

#3.  The Ruskies are still here. As in still attacking our American electoral system; as in attacking the McCaskill Senate campaign in Missouri.  They also appear to have attacked two other campaigns. This isn’t “history,” this is current events.  There’s more at “The Hacking of America,” on Slate.   The article isn’t exactly pleasant reading, but it’s recommended as a reminder that God helps those who help themselves, and DHS is talking about new initiatives with 90 day timelines.   90 days?  What happened to getting a start on this, say some 1 year, 188 days, and 2 minutes (as of now) ago?

#4.  Special concern for the people in the Redding, California area.  The news on that fire front is horrible. Up here in cheat grass country we lucked out during the Holloway Complex Fire in 2014.  There’s nothing quite so chilling as the sound of a local deputy on a bull horn announcing a preliminary notice of an evacuation order.  I don’t wish it on anyone.  Please, California neighbors, stay safe!

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