Category Archives: Politics

Make America Good Again: Why I’m tired of DC’s Cool Kids

MAGA blue good againPress bashing is altogether too simple, and simplistic, but it is the way we get our information about politics in Nevada and America.  Now that we’re a focal point for national interest in a senatorial race it’s hard to avoid the punditry and their continual blathering.  However, we do need to avoid them.  We do need to ignore the cool kids and their cocktail party conversations in print, at least most of them.

For the next two weeks — shut down the television machine and do something else. Why? Because they really can’t tell us much we don’t already know. Because they want to talk to us about what they want to talk about and not necessarily what we need to know.

The cool kids in front of the cameras and writing as columnists are opinionists. Each day it’s their job to grind out opinion pieces — some better than others, some more informed than others, but always written to be read by other opinion writers and commentators. The other cool kids will comment on what a member of their cohort has written or said, and the cycle continues until the next shiny object floats before their countenances and their off to another topic — because it’s not cool to keep writing about the same topic day after day.

Then the opinionists profess surprise that people, real people, are more interested in health care, than in the latest incident du jour or poll of the moment.  Real people are more interested in policy than process; real people are more interested in issues than in the reflections and refractions from the myriad of shiny objects which distract the opinionists and bedazzle the punditry.  This is likely because real people understand that health insurance policies which don’t cover pre-existing medical conditions, or only provide coverage at exorbitant premium rates, isn’t helpful.  Real people understand, on a daily basis, that if they aren’t seeing their wages keep up with inflation, or they don’t have enough cash in reserve to meet a $500 emergency expense,  the economy isn’t working for them.

Turn off the Sunday squawk shows. Why? Because these are more infotainment than substance; more about process and spin than information and analysis.  Case in point: The cook kid’s obsession with “Democratic responses.”  Let’s face it, we have a misogynistic, sexist, racist, elitist administration in the Oval Office and the Democrats have to come up with ways to respond to it — but with the cool kids there’s no way to win.

Senator Elizabeth Warren responds to at least two years worth of nasty racist taunting with a DNA test and what does she get from the cool kids?  Oh, clutch pearls, she’s descending to “his level,” or she doesn’t meet tribal membership qualification standards (that was never the point in the first place.) Is she really announcing her interest in running for the presidency in 2020?  The cool kids were ever so busy parsing her announcement for “clues,” and ever so dismissive about her “timing,” her “phrasing,” her “intentions.”  Was it just me, or did this smack a bit of the Clinton Treatment?  Secretary Clinton writes a book. It was “too soon.”  It was “too late.”  It was “too personal.” It was not “personal enough.”  She should “go away.” She has a responsibility to stay and lead her party.  She can’t win with the cool kids in DC, she never could, and now it appears Senator Warren has joined her.

How many members of the Cool Kids Club have noticed the propensity of the Republicans to attack a certain group of people — Hillary Clinton, Elizabeth Warren, Maxine Waters, Fredericka Wilson, Valerie Jarrett, Susan Rice, Stacey Abrams, Nancy Pelosi… seeing a pattern here?  It’s time to tune out of the punditry’s process analysis parsing, and do some phone calling, door knocking, and talking to some of those people who are more concerned about whether they can afford a trip to the ER than with how the Cocktail Party Club will receive their well crafted and grammatically polished opinion pieces.

It’s also high time to stop listening to the false equivalency gamesmanship.   I don’t much care how many times the buffoon in the Oval Office calls Democrats a “mob.”  That’s a bull-horn talking point for his base of dead-ender deplorables.  Yes, they are deplorable people.  A person gets to be deplorable in my estimation when it’s acceptable to invite a self-anointed radical right wing racist thug to a Republican venue, and then offer no apology when he and his associates go out on a New York city street and start beating up people.  What on earth could these “Proud Boys” be proud of?  It

It is deplorable, in my estimation, when the Tiki Torch carrying, Nazi slogan chanting boys take to the streets of Charlottesville, VA, and then one of their number decides it’s a fine idea to deliberately drive a car into the crowd of anti-nazi demonstrators — killing one young woman.  It is NOT a fine idea for Florida Republican leadership to invite White Supremacists to threaten House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi.  Oh, but but but what about Mitch McConnell and some others being shouted at in restaurants?  Excuse me… but when did driving into crowds, beating up people in the streets, chanting Nazi slogans within hearing distance of a synagogue, and threatening direct physical violence to the House Minority Leader become “equivalent” to getting shouted at in a restaurant?  [I don’t advocate shouting at people in restaurants — I’m rather more the type to tell the management that the mere presence of those people has put me off my feed and I’m leaving — I’ll pay my bill if I’ve already been served (no reason to make the staff pay for my personal quirks) but I’d really rather spot the Deplorables before I order so I can walk out without making any financial contribution to the establishment serving them.]

I, for one, am tired of the false equivalency game, and there’s no reason to listen to it.  I have a handy button on my TV remote control that fixes that.

So, please, for the next few days walk precincts if you can, make phone calls, talk to friends and neighbors, do whatever you can whenever you can to Get People Out To Vote.  Somehow we need to overcome the gerrymandering, egregious vote suppression tactics, and false electoral information strategies to get to the polls, vote in the polling stations, and make a difference in the trajectory of this country.  State by state, county by county, city and town by city and town, ward by ward, precinct by precinct.

There’s enough noise coming from the television sets and radios; but, what we do need to attend to are the needs of our neighbors, the interests of our friends, and the concerns of our cohorts.  Vote like our right to vote depends on it. It does.  Make America Good Again.

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Filed under media, Nevada, Nevada politics, Politics

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

And Now Back To Our Regular Program: Post Kavanaugh Infrastructure Week

Senatorial candidate/incumbent Dean Heller (R-NV) was pleased to tweet Justice Kavanaugh was confirmed.  Not that the confirmation was a major surprise.  The Senate Judiciary Committee Republicans didn’t want to investigate his background, the White House didn’t want to investigate his background, the Chief Justice sat on complaints arising from his background [WaPo] and the pundit class was ever so pleased to have a “dramatic” confirmation to cover.  There were other elements which should have come as no surprise either.

The newspapers and broadcast media played along with the “controversy.”  Was it “he said, she said?”  What were women thinking? What were Trump-Women thinking?  Was he going to be the swing vote on challenges to Roe v. Wade?  Not too much ink and precious few pixels were expended describing his position on workers’ rights, on environmental regulations, on human rights, on much of anything other than the abortion issue.  Yawn.  Those more complex issues require deeper reporting and far more depth in explication and they don’t sell advertising.   Once more we’re reminded that the general public is not the first audience for television and print media business operations — it’s the advertisers.

Therefore, why would anyone be surprised the media aired and printed GOP bombast about “paid protesters,” and “mobs” of angry people?  There has always been a double standard at work in this realm.  The Status Quo is male, business ownership oriented, quaffs its scotch and water or sipping whiskey beside polished bars and inside elegant doors, and buys advertising — or knows someone who does.  The cameras will follow the freest spirit clad in the most outrageous costuming for a protest occasion, while those dressed more conservatively aren’t often in the frame because they don’t “tell the story.”  Or, at least not the story the advertisers want to tell.

Women have known since the era of the suffragettes that men are “passionate,” while women are “hysterical and emotional.”  If a person isn’t sure about this take another look at Serena Williams’ protest of an official’s call which may very well have cost her a championship match.  Women have known all along theirs is not the story the Status Quo wants in the headlines above the fold, or leading the broadcast.  The numbers of women who remember a time when all the ‘shelter’ magazines advised them to give up their jobs so returning soldiers could be assured of employment and a comfortable ‘nest’ at home are dwindling, but the memory is still within a life span.

Viewers watch marching neo-nazis with tiki torches, chanting “Blood and Soil,” while sporting their tidy white polo shirts and khaki trousers.  Gee, they don’t give the general impression of an “angry mob.”  It’s only when the cameras move closer to the faces that the hate is visible.  Compare the visual to the preferred camera target in a contemporary protest.  Once the march leaders are shown the cameras seek out the most eye-catching characters.  They usually don’t have that white-washed polo shirt look.  They are often students who don’t own more than one suit, if that, and certainly don’t want to risk getting really good clothing messed up during the inevitable police action which could ensue.  So, it’s jeans and T-shirts/jackets compared on screen to polo shirts and khakis.  No matter the jeans and T’s are defending 1st Amendment rights by exercising them, as the khaki klan seeks to impose white supremacy on a diverse country.  But, what about “the men?”

Once more the media allows the big players to frame the game.  If the #MeToo movement has gathered support and seems to be adding adherents and allies, then what might the Status Quo do to counter?  This week was a classic.  Elite, rich, elderly white males stood before us crying (and whining) about men being the victims of modernity.  However, this whine has been boiling for a long time.  Consider the continuous complaints of the Rush Limbaugh’s of the airwaves with their moaning about ‘feminazis” and how a real American guy can’t swat Mary Jane’s fanny when she steps into the garage — how a real man can’t wolf whistle at all the Mary Jane’s who have to walk past a construction site — how real men can’t catch a break because of all the women in the workplace who stifle the man’s competitive spirit.  Of course, real men don’t feel the need to swat Mary Jane’s fanny in the garage; they don’t need to wolf whistle; and they control most of the management positions in corporate America.  This isn’t news.

When all else fails the right can be assured the old anti-Semitic ploys will work.  If all the canned ham look-a-likes (Karl Rove, Rush Limbaugh, etc)  don’t manage to put a major dent in the image of protesters who don’t care for sexism and misogyny, there’s always the “paid protester” line… in this case George Soros who makes a convenient stand-in for the old anti-Rothchild propaganda of an earlier era.  The old double standard works here as well.  The Tea Partiers were “Real America.”  The Occupy Wall Street protesters must have been paid.  The contemporary protesters, mostly women last week, must surely have been paid — according to the elite, rich, white, males who celebrated ignoring them.

Will this, the press asked, cause a closer horse race in the mid-terms?  There is absolutely nothing the press seems to like more than a horse race, a sporting event, anything which will allow the punditry to pontificate on sports cliches like “momentum.”  Spare me. All the press has to work with are general, national or statewide, polling.  It does not have access to internal, private, number crunching performed on behalf of the campaigns themselves.  Most individuals who have been “in politics” for more than a school committee race know the truth of the O’Neill Maxim: All politics is local. 

Besides the “big” stuff the cable channels like to cover, there are better questions which they can’t answer because they just flat out don’t have the resources to do so. For example, they don’t have much of a handle on “candidate fit,” or how the specific candidate fits the local electorate.  They don’t have access to local politically active organizations which do phone banks, walks, and other services for campaigns. Nor do they have a way to gauge the effectiveness of local politically related leadership in social and other organizations.  The “media” may have a 35K view of a national issue, but there’s plenty of cloud cover before it sees what is going on in Ward 4 of Congressional District 3’s race. Not that we should ignore the media reportage, but we do need to be cognizant of how limited it is.

There’s the post hoc ergo procter hoc problem.  Even after an election the media may proclaim that some national issue had “an effect,” while underneath that “effect” may very well be the fact that Candidate X launched a full throat-ed ad buy, along with a deluge of phone bankers, combined with a legion of precinct walkers in the last week.

Thus,  for those who have survived another Infrastructure Week of the divisive, deflective, dumpster disaster which is the Trump Era,  there are mid-term elections which will be determined by who votes for whom.

Who has the best get out the vote plan? Who executes that plan best?

Who has the better candidate who best fits the district or state? Who executes the campaign best?

Who just flat out works harder to get in office or stay that way?  Who didn’t let the Outrage du Jour distract them from campaigning on issues near and dear to their constituents hearts — regardless of the media tendencies, press proclivities, and advertisers demands.  Who kept their eyes on the prize when others were distracted by double standards and double vision?

When we vote we win. That’s all there is to it.

 

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Filed under Heller, Judicial, media, media ownership, Nevada politics, Politics

Sheer Incompetence Plus Venality: Trump’s Landscape

Somewhere in the midst of my barely controlled anger over the treatment of Dr. Ford by the current administration and my propensity not to let go of a bone previously gnawed, I’m reaching the conclusion that the Oval Office is a dismal domain of sheer incompetence combined with utter venality, mixed with a pattern of responses to critical news.

A brief review — Dr. Ford offered credible testimony indicating Judge Kavanaugh engaged in reprehensible acts as a young man.  There is corroborating testimony, not necessarily to the actual event in question in all its detail, but to the character of the man, and to the likelihood that her allegations are possibly true, and importantly that Judge Kavanaugh has certainly been less than forthcoming about various aspects of his character.

Another brief review — Christopher Steele, British author and former MI6 agent, was so concerned about activities involving the Trump campaign and the Russians that he compiled his information into memos and relayed the information to the Federal Bureau of Investigation in July and October of 2016.  His opposition research was originally contracted by a conservative organization in 2015, and later picked up by DNC/Clinton Campaign in the Spring of 2016.

Yet another brief review — The New York Times runs a compendious article about the Trump fortune which should demolish any mythology surrounding the 45th president concerning the origin of his putative fortune.  No, he didn’t get a small loan from his father; he got several large loans from his father many of which were forgiven.  No, he is not a successful tycoon, his father had to bail him out of not one but several financial disasters.

What do these have in common? First, they are both uncomfortable topics for the current administration. Secondly, there’s a pattern in the administration’s responses.  No sooner does the information begin to emerge than the response is to discredit the source.  Dr. Ford can’t remember all the details of her traumatic evening, therefore the description must not be completely reliable. If it is not totally reliable then the Judge must be innocent before proven guilty, as if a job interview for a judgeship is a matter for criminal prosecution.  Christopher Steel’s memos cannot all the verified, therefore all of his assertions and descriptions in his reporting must be suspect; none can be accepted until all can be demonstratively proven.  The information in the NY Times article is “old news, and a hit piece,”  except that there is ‘news’ in the account.

Once the seed is planted discrediting the source it’s time to play the verbiage game.  It’s time to spin the narrative wheel and see where the needle lands?   The administration is fond of prefacing any commentary related to the Steele memos as “debunked.”  They’ve hardly been debunked, in fact most of the allegations contained in the memos have been verified.  Only the Pee Tape mythology remains illusive.  However, here we see the pattern again — if something cannot be 100% nailed down and documented the entirety of the assertions and allegations must be dismissed out of hand.

The administration would tell us that Dr. Ford’s description of Judge Kavanaugh’s behavior cannot be verified, but its own haste to conduct a “supplemental” background check left out so many avenues of possible verification the “check” part of the sentence remains vague to the point of vacuity.

The Oval Office would have us believe the NY Times financial article, so lengthy it required more paper for the print edition, was a rehash of old accusations.  In actuality it’s a careful, meticulous rendition of the tax scams, shady dealing, and intra-familial self dealing which enabled the current resident of 1600 PA Avenue to claim — without a bit of substantiation — he is a self made billionaire.  Far from being the brilliant businessman, Trump is more likely the stumbling fool who paid too much for the New Jersey Generals, and managed to bankrupt a casino business.

Here’s what I believe we can reasonably expect:

(1) The pattern will continue, if only because the Administration is so spectacularly inept.  Little wonder things like the Kavanaugh nomination, the first Muslim Ban, the Immigration Zero Tolerance plan, and other action blow up in their faces.  The actions are ill considered, incompletely thought out, and incompetently implemented.  This is a recipe for a debacle in any forum.

(2) The pattern will continue as long as reporting plays along with the talking points game.  Adding “debunked” to the Steele memos doesn’t mean that most of them weren’t straight on point.  Adding “unsubstantiated” to Dr. Ford’s testimony doesn’t mean her story is any less generally credible.  Adding “old news hit piece” to the New York Times reporting doesn’t mean it doesn’t shed considerable light on the financial machinations of the Trump family, and Donald J Trump in particular.

Thus when we begin with sheer incompetence, ineptly implementing fundamentally flawed policy from the most venal perspective possible, it’s no accident we are in for a bombardment of reactions tailored to discredit the sources, over-generalize the message, and under-evaluate any underlying veracity.   Given the nature of sheer incompetence this is about all we can come to expect.

What is interesting is to watch politicians like Adam Laxalt and Dean Heller try to anchor their campaigns on the shifting shingle beaches of the Trump landscape littered with venality, incompetence, and bombast.

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Filed under Heller, 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

Fire hosed, Gas lit, and Overlooked

Sometimes there’s more to be observed than will fit in a short Tweet.  For example, there’s Senator Dean Heller’s ad on my TV machine telling me that his opponent, Rep. Jacky Rosen, is “soft on MS 13.”  It might be said the ad says more about Senator Dean Heller than it does about his opponent.  Right off the bat there’s that conflation between immigrants and gang members.  “Mexicans are rapists, drug dealers, and some, I suppose are nice people.”  Exactly why Senator Heller thinks running ads with negative inferences concerning Hispanic individuals will play well in a state wherein 27.3% of the population is of Hispanic or Latino heritage remains a mystery.  Secondly,  it’s also confounding why Senator Heller’s campaign is replicating Trump’s ’16 talking points as if repetition is the sincerest way to victory.  Trump did not carry Nevada.  If the talking points didn’t work then, why are they supposed to work now? And this with Trump’s August approval rating in Nevada dropping by 4 points, and a disapproval rating of 50%.  Finally, about 75% of the state’s population lives in Clark County (Las Vegas metro area).  If the rules of arithmetic still hold that means the rest of Nevada’s miles and miles and miles of miles and miles and miles account for only 25% of the population — and the votes.  Or, some 460,587 people live in Washoe County, and then it’s mostly wide open spaces. Acreage doesn’t vote.  The Inyo National Forest area of Esmeralda County is beautiful, but if a candidate for statewide office spends more than eight minutes there going after the support of all 850 residents, he or she is quite likely to lose a statewide election.  Likewise, if candidate A is talking about immigration and B is talking about health care; and the voters care more about health care… the results are obvious.

Frankly speaking the Senate race in Nevada is closer than it should be.  Heller is an incumbent, well financed, and reasonably well organized.  His opponent is a relative new face, a newly minted Congressional Representative, but also well financed and reasonably well organized.  The incumbency factor should be well in Heller’s favor.  However, the more he adheres to the Trumpian base with its attendant racism, anti-immigration policies, and pie in the sky economics of deregulation, the less he connects with Nevada voters.  He’ll be very popular in White Pine County (9,811 population) but risks it all in Clark County (2.115 million population.)

While most eyes are watching the Kavanaugh debacle unfold on cable news and on Saturday Night Live, there’s that immigration policy story from the White House that just won’t go away.  A federal district judge in California might be poised to do for the protected status changes the Trump Administration wants what a previous judge did for Muslim bans numbers one and two.   There’s also the “public charge” rule change the administration wants that is set to make major steps in the Make America White Again policy, and these proposals merit more attention.  [See more on this topic here.]  Administration policies have also been especially harsh on women — why are we not surprised?  At least one commentator has noticed Trumpian rhetoric sounds similar to KKK hypernationalism of the 1920s.   White House advisers seem to come and go with revolving door regularity — but Stephen Miller remains forever.  Wonder why that is?

Are we looking at the wrong analogy?  Yes, Thomas Jefferson did his very best to be rid of Samuel Chase on the US Supreme Court.  Chase remained on the Court, Jefferson remained annoyed.  However, in modern terms should we be looking more carefully at the example of Abe Fortas, Johnson ally and a man who lasted on the Supreme Court from 1965 to 1969?   Remember, there are some serious questions about Kavanaugh’s finances which, to date, have not been thoroughly answered.  Someone is going to do a bit of investigative research and publish more information.  The “bombshell” may be the charges of sexual misconduct leveled by women against Judge Kavanaugh; the larger delayed-action bomb (think of the aerial bombs dropped by British, American, and German bombers during World War II) may well lie in the more quotidian category of Kavanaugh’s personal debts and finances?  Stay tuned.

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Filed under Nevada politics, Politics