Tag Archives: DACA

It’s Been A Long Time Coming: Trump wasn’t built in a day.

The Mueller Hearing, July 24, 2019, laid bare the current differences between the modern renditions of Republicans and Democrats in a stark flash illuminating what’s been going on since 1964 (at least) and why there are no silver bullets to resolve the Constitutional issues.  The hearings took 7 hours, the problems it highlighted are freighted with 65 years worth of history. Viewed from this perspective, Trump isn’t the disease, he’s the major symptom.

If there’s a handy label for the current political shape of the Republican Party I’m not aware of it, but what we are looking at is an amalgam of revitalized Dixiecrats and long range planning by the National Association of Manufacturers as described in the 1971 memo authored by Lewis Powell.

There are more than enough tomes on both the rise of corporate power, and the insidious spread of racist political foundations, to fill library shelves.  All we need do is see the spectacle of GOP apologists for Russian interference in our elections as another mile marker on an already paved road.

Part of the pavement is composed of the vestiges of those states where the decision in Brown v Board of Education was not well received, and those states where the battle flag went back up when it was discovered that they really were going to have to integrate their schools and public accommodations.  Does anyone believe it’s an accident Senate Majority Leader McConnell is jamming through judicial appointments of those who are hedging on whether Brown was correctly decided?  Does anyone cling to the fiction that the anti-abortion culture war alliances don’t trace back to school desegregation orders? Does anyone doubt the blatant racism of Stephen Miller’s immigration proposals?

Trump hasn’t changed the racist nature of modern Republican political ideology, he’s just said the quiet part out loud.

The other part of the mixture recalls the days when the National Association of  Manufacturers decided to move their headquarters to Wasington DC.  The road map was drafted in Lewis Powell’s 1971 memo, the “American economic system is under broad attack.” Powell advocated a long term, gradual but steady, advance of corporate interests.  It wasn’t too difficult to combine the residual McCarthyism with the call for “less government” to achieve the unlikely scene of so-called populist ultra-conservatives avidly supporting a racist president against the Commies and Socialists in a hearing room; it just took time and patience.

Please give latitude to my cynicism. Impeaching Trump would be a very constructive activity, but it won’t solve the problem. The GOP will simply find another, possibly less boorish, model who will be all the more dangerous for being better able to keep his (And it will be his) thumbs and mouth under control, one who won’t say the quiet part at decibel levels associated with aircraft engines.

The better view may be to take a longer approach, and one which draws from their own playbook. Hit’em where they think they’re strongest. In this instance, hit Trump on the very issue he intends to ride to a 2020 victory…immigration.

He’s already doubled, perhaps tripled, down on the racism embedded in his approach as he angles toward a base turnout election.  When an opponent is digging himself into a hole, hand him a larger shovel.  It shouldn’t be too difficult to brand Trump’s policies as racist, which they patently are. Nor should it be too much effort to clothe him in these soiled philosophical garments. “Yes, the stock market is doing well, but what are we to make of the fact that some children are being detained away from their parents in squalid conditions?”  Some message discipline required, but if Democrats can tag every interview with a brief inquiry about children in cages, US citizens being detained, or why the Republicans won’t discuss DACA recipients, the frog may start to boil?

Then we can add the health care issue. There is no GOP plan to replace the ACA.  Add one measure of immigration attack (Why won’t the GOP listen to Dreamers? Why are children locked away?) to one measure of specifically what is your plan to cover those with pre-existing medical conditions?  What is your plan to provide maternity care? Mental health and addiction abatement care? Why can’t we address gun violence as a question of public health and safety?

As once members of the left avoided the term liberal because the right wing talkers besmeared it, let right wingers know how the racist, heartless, radical label grates?

We could strengthen and broaden the Democratic message, and take an opportunity to begin a longer phased approach to reclaiming the social contract binding citizens to their government.  Patience. Discipline. Progress. It’s possible. A pendulum swings both directions.

 

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Filed under conservatism, family issues, Gun Issues, Health Care, Immigration, Politics, racism

The Great Wall of Distraction or Why The President is a Lousy Dealmaker

From the December 2017 report from the Department of Homeland Security:

Arrests of people trying to cross illegally into the U.S. from Mexico plunged to the lowest level since 1971, as fewer people attempted the trek, the Department of Homeland Security announced Tuesday.

Meanwhile, immigration arrests in the interior of the country increased by 25 percent, the data show. [NPR]

What we know is that (1) the President didn’t get ‘wall money’ in the recent Omnibus Bill; (2) four immigration bills failed as of February 2018 in the US Senate; (3) the Special Counsel has interviewed at least two Russian oligarchs [CNN]; (4) his selection for National Security Adviser is up to his ears in an investigation of Cambridge Analytica [NYT] and (5) the President is a ‘subject’ of the Mueller investigation, although not a target at this time; [WaPo] (6) if the administration isn’t careful there’s a trade war in the offing with China.  It must be time for The Wall.

So, why are broadcasters focusing on the Administration’s version of the Ming Dynasty wall renovation and construction efforts (1368-1644), and why now?

At one level there’s the obvious diversion of the conversation away from the actual news of the day, see list above.  I’ve not seen it done to date, but surely someone out there is measuring the time differential between negative news concerning the president and the launching of a new assault on immigrants.

Another onion layer may well be the utility of the immigration issue with the Trumpian base voter — the issue as currently framed is almost blatantly racist, note there is no “national security” issue with those coming across the northern border, and little attention to immigrants who have overstayed visas from European countries.  For those who believe that make America great again actually means make America white controlled again, the diversion is a nice interlude for self congratulation and confirmation.

The utility of immigration as an attention grabber may also be related to what is becoming evident — the President is a lousy deal maker.

The prime rule in negotiations is Get Organized. Here’s a thought: Have A Plan.  Better still have a detailed plan.  Know what is wanted, what is essential, what can be bargained away, what is the ‘walk off point,’ what are the priorities.  Business and labor negotiators know that preparation is essential, and that it’s necessary to view the bargaining positions from both perspectives, and to prepare accordingly.

Few issues better illustrate the administration’s failure to plan than immigration.  There were four bills in the Senate last February [Vox] and all of them failed because the administration kept moving the goal posts. The president moved from a ‘send me a bipartisan bill,’ to send me a bill with money for a wall, to send me a bill with funding for the wall and an end to family reunification programs and a limit to legal immigration and a system of merit based immigration….  The fact that the presidential position kept changing during the negotiation process with the Senate is a sure sign the White House wasn’t clear what it wanted in the first place and kept trying to insert issues into the package without having an initial position which was clear to others at the bargaining table. If nothing more, the administration should have prepared a listing of priorities, in ranked order.  A similar failure to plan out a cogent and consistent position was also visible in the propositions for gun law reformation.   A failure to get organized in the first place often leads to problems all too common when one side isn’t actually listening to the other.

Rule Two — Know the Opposition.  This requires good old fashioned preparation and equally essential listening.  When Senators were debating the immigration proposals last February both sides understood a solution for DACA recipients was desirable, but that funding for wall building on the southern border was problematic, and limitations on legal immigration complicated an already frustrating situation.  The Collins-Schumer Plan had the best chance of success in the Senate but failed 54-46 when the goal posts moved.   A failure to plan out a detailed proposal combined with a failure to pick up the signals from seasoned Congressional negotiators about what would add votes from ‘the other side of the aisle’ doomed the legislative process.

Rule Three — Hard bargaining looks good but it very rarely works.  There’s a huge difference between extending proposals and posturing.  The White House signaled ‘hard bargaining’ when in the wake of what appeared a promising start on immigration issues rapidly devolved into chaos when the White House later responded with a laundry list of extreme positions which removed the focus from a solvable issue (DACA) to a more intractable one — general immigration policy reform. When the White House moved into another ‘hard bargaining’ stance (Take It Or Leave It)  the  Senate failed to defuse the situation by ignoring the hard line offer, and having a counter-offer at hand to resolve a more mutually desirable resolution to a solvable problem, in this instance DACA.

Rule Four — Never bargain against yourself. Side A makes an offer. Side B responds with a request for a concession from Side A before making a counter offer. Wrong. Again, the administration’s sliding positions on what would be acceptable immigration policy legislation had both the White House and the Senators inviting unreciprocated offers.  At some point the Senators would have been well advised to tell the White House they awaited a definite, written, and specific counter offer to the Collins-Schumer Bill and then sat tight.

Rule Five — Sharing works in bargaining.  While it isn’t necessary to put all one’s cards on the table, especially previously prepared  counter offers, it is helpful for both sides to share information which informs general positions.  It might be financial information, or anecdotal points of reference, or even personal. However, if reciprocity is what is wanted then sharing is just as important at the bargaining table as it was in kindergarten.

Rule Six — Know how to get to Yes. If Side A and Side B are truly bargaining, and not merely posturing, and if they come to the table prepared with ranked priorities and specific proposals and counter offers, then at some point they will get to the YES part.  The Yes Zone is the point at which Side A has conceded all it can without reordering its priorities and Side B has gained all it can without facing a rebellion in the mass meeting or board room. There must be an understanding from the outset that neither side will get everything it wants.  That’s not bargaining or deal making — that’s just bluster and posturing.

Unfortunately, the White House violated all six of these rules of the bargaining road, which leaves a person with the impression that for all the vaunted “Art of the Deal” the president doesn’t move much further than making an offer, badgering someone into submission, and then litigating when the inevitable impasse is reached.  In short, not only doesn’t the Oval Office know how to bargain effectively it doesn’t even give the appearance of knowing what its initial positions should be and how those should be developed, organized, and presented.

Without a basic knowledge of what constitutes effective bargaining (and Lord knows there is a plethora of articles on the subject from all manner of perspectives) the White House will be forced to revert to the posturing which puts a premium on distraction and publicity and discounts constructive solutions.

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No Toleration for Intolerance, and other matters

No, I don’t feel one tiny little bit of need to be one tiny little bit magnanimous or even a tiny little bit of need to be tolerant of the Oaf in the Oval Office — or the politicians who enable him.

I feel no need to be tolerant of those who rally the uglies.  The uglies are those who think calling out African American congressional representatives (see: Frederica Wilson and Maxine Waters)  and addressing them with epithets is appropriate from an Oval Office occupant.  And, what’s with calling out Jemele Hill of ESPN?  What do these three have in common?  Oh, yeah, I get it.  It’s obvious.  The Oaf’s performance in Pennsylvania was enough to curdle any and all positive feelings toward a once proud office and a once proud political party.  It’s OK to be outraged, in fact if a person isn’t outraged then it’s time for a reality check.

I feel no need to be tolerant of a government which cannot seem to find voice when our closest ally on this planet is told that a nerve agent attack in Salisbury “looks” like the Russians did it, but “we” will wait for a conversation with Prime Minister May before making a statement.  WE have already heard from the Prime Minister. She was all over the TV landscape yesterday with strong words in their Parliament. She was concise. She was forceful. She was measured but emphatic.  WE can take her word for it. She doesn’t need to reveal sources and methods in order for US to believe her.  In fact, I used up my blogging time yesterday watching BBC News, and following their news and analysis.  There wasn’t anything nebulous about the coverage.  However, WE have an Oval Office Occupant who can’t bring himself to say anything negative about one of the most egregious thugs on this planet.   Why it is even necessary to ask: Now, will we implement the sanctions against Russian passed almost unanimously by Congress last year?

I feel no need to take his sycophants like Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Moscow Oblast) seriously.  Rep. Nunes is perfectly free to make a complete fool of himself with his issuance of a report clearly intended to exonerate the Oval Office Oaf.  Except it won’t.  Representative Nunes evidently believes it is more important to protect the OOO than to determine to what extent the current mis-administration was aligned with Russian efforts to interfere in our electoral processes and institutions.  Rep. Nunes is marching alongside those who find it impossible to conduct serious inquiries and thereby suggest serious legislation to resolve problems which led to the Russian interference.

I feel no need to support an administration the prime characteristic of which is the cacophony of a one man band playing off key and out of rhythm.   The Oval Office Oaf doesn’t even have the courage to fire people face to face.  He sends a body-guard to fire the former Director of the FBI, he sends a tweet to fire a Secretary of State, he is a coward.  He may want “conflict” but he can’t handle confrontation.

Item:  He conducted a skit about DACA at the White House.  He was all for a compromise, he would take the political heat, he would sign a bi-partisan bill. Until — he got a bi-partisan bill delivered to him for his approval and suddenly he didn’t want to take the political heat, and he caved to the racist opponents of immigration reform.

Item: He conducted a skit concerning gun reform at the White House.  He was all for several proposals which might reduce the lethality of mass shootings. Until — he met with the leadership of the NRA, and suddenly he was carrying their water in oversize pails.  There’s precious little reason for anyone to visit the White House to present proposals on most important subjects because the Oval Office Oaf will make comments and express concern only to reverse himself faster than a used car lot inflatable air dancer in a hurricane.

I feel no need to be tolerant of an administration beset with moral and ethical issues. Granted there have been embarrassments in all administrations.  However, this one is beyond the range of our previous imagination.  One year into an administration and key members can’t get a security clearance?  At least one person who was under investigation for “serious financial crimes,” was fired from the White House only to find immediate employment with the re-election campaign this week.  Who hires people who are under investigation for “serious financial crimes?” Four Cabinet officials have been ‘reprimanded’ for their questionable travel and expenditures. Four, and it’s only 400+ days into an administration.

Presidents need not be saints, and Heaven knows a few of ours haven’t been, but pay offs to a porn star?  That’s a new one.  Yes, supporters of James Blaine in the 1884 election would chant “Ma Ma Where’s My Pa?”  The rejoinder from advocates of Grover Cleveland’s candidacy was “Gone to the White House, Ha Ha Ha.”  However, none of our former Presidents faced allegations of sexual misconduct from 19 women.

And then there’s the money.

“…an investigation by The New York Times into the financial maze of Mr. Trump’s real estate holdings in the United States reveals that companies he owns have at least $650 million in debt — twice the amount than can be gleaned from public filings he has made as part of his bid for the White House. The Times’s inquiry also found that Mr. Trump’s fortunes depend deeply on a wide array of financial backers, including one he has cited in attacks during his campaign.” [NYT]

His claim that he’s had “nothing to do with Russia” is pure nonsense.   For all the salacious interest in the Oval Office Oaf’s sexual misconduct — the more fruitful segments of current investigations are likely encapsulated in the Nixon era maxim “follow the money.”

In the mean time, I do not intend to “follow the President,” and I do not wish him well as he undercuts environmental protections, consumer protections, financial consumer protections; our standing among nations, our relationships with our allies, and our prestige in the world.  Nor do I intend to grant him any accolades for continuing his divisive, irrational, and racist rhetoric.  One campaign filled with that was sufficient.

I do take some comfort knowing that 65,853,516 people in this country may agree with me.

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I’m Watching a Basketball Game (Instead of the DACA drama)

Yes, in the midst of the Soap Opera that is the Federal Government of these United States this political junkie is watching a basketball game I recorded yesterday. Why? Because I received just about all the news I need for the next couple of days in perhaps less than 15 minutes this morning.   The rest will be noise.

Every pundit ever hired by every cable broadcast network will expend altogether too much energy “explaining” what the machinations of the past week “mean.”  Since I’ve come to believe they aren’t significantly better at prognostication than your average ground hog, octopus, or other member of the animal kingdom, I’ll stick to my own interpretation.

The Republicans are eventually going to own the mess they’ve made.  The DACA program was working in September 2017 when the Big Dealer in Chief stuck his foot in it.  Why? I’m going to go with the explanation that it was in support of the rather egregious House version of a Bridge Act introduced on January 12, 2017.  (HR 496 for those keeping score) There is no path to citizenship in the House version, and the bill essentially treats Dreamers as cheap labor, to be exploited by both employers and the federal government in terms of an endless assessment of fees.  It would also cover precious few Dreamers.

In today’s dispatches from delusion-ville, the White House wants an immigration bill that is “good for America.”  I think we can safely assume this means no path to citizenship for young people who’ve known no other country but this one, a “merit-based” immigration plan (which really isn’t similar to Canada’s any more than it’s similar to the Canadian health care system the Republicans were quick to malign), and it eliminates family reconciliation.   A miserable, un-American plan though it may be, I am of the opinion the House “Bridge Act” [text] is what Stephen Miller and the other racists in the West Wing have in mind.  The timing looks a bit suspicious to me, Trump signed the executive order eliminating the DACA program on September 5th, the same day there was a discharge petition in the House — which promptly went nowhere.

And now we do have a major mess.   The Big Dealer in Chief doesn’t have a position on much of anything, much less immigration.  However, that state of affairs doesn’t mean he won’t attach himself to whatever buzzwords and banners will help keep his radical base in line.  Thus we can assume he will order another Diet Coke while twittering on about “immigrants and crime” (a truly faulty proposition) or “immigrants versus citizens” (without bothering to notice the connection between immigrants and their contributions to the American economy — the economy benefiting citizens; and, giving us all to understand that the Norwegians (82.3% white) are preferable to those from those **hole places which send us an in-ordinary number of people with advanced degrees.

So, the herd on Capitol Hill has until February 8, 2018 to clean up.  Senate Majority Leader McConnell is now without one of his more important hostages — CHIP beneficiaries, and Senator McCaskill knocked the legs out from under his Military hostages when she offered an measure to pay members of the Armed Forces and Sen. McConnell objected.  What McConnell did secure was the capacity to put House Speaker Ryan into a soup largely of his own concoction.

Speaker Ryan, has a problem — he has to come up with a DACA fix acceptable to the Senate, a solution not currently available in legislative language on his side of the building.  If the House does move toward a compromise bill his Freedom (for us but not anyone else) Caucus will scream to the heavens.  If the House stays put with its current version, the Senate Democrats can shut down the government funding for round two, and this time on more solid ground.  A compromise bill will likely not please either side of the divide, however the House alternative will cement the reputation of Republicans as the Party of Racists.

Thus, the Party which has promulgated the notion that allowing anyone at any time to march down the road to full citizenship is “amnesty,”  is now fettered with a label they’ve sought to avoid since the sainted Ronald Reagan gave his “state’s rights” speech at the Neshoba County Fair on August 3, 1980 giving voice and heft to the Southern Strategy.

Popcorn anyone?

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Filed under anti-immigration, Immigration, Politics, racism

The Toddler Problem

One of the refrains from the racist right comes in the form of arguments to end the DACA program and deport all alien born persons who were brought to the US as children, because their mere presence in the country is a violation of the law.   As the late, great, Keith Jackson intoned: “Whoa Nelly.”

As those who have even the most passing knowledge of the DACA program are aware, DACA recipients must be employed or in school, must not have committed any crimes, and must register… but what of those who were brought to this country as very young children.

A person who’s served on jury duty know that there are elements to a crime, the act must be criminal, and the person must be capable of forming the requisite intent. The fancy terms are actus reus (the criminal act) and the mens rea (criminal intent).  So who can form the requisite intent — not a toddler.

This isn’t a new idea, it goes back to English Common Law:

“At common law, children were generally regarded as incapable of committing crimes. However, different presumptions have generally been applied, depending upon the age of the child. Generally, it is conclusively presumed that a child under the age of seven is unable to form a criminal mens rea and, therefore, a child that young cannot be convicted of a crime.”

Federal statutes state that the age for “criminal responsibility” is eleven years of age.  Most states don’t directly address the age issue:

“The minimum age of criminal liability is set at the federal and state level in the United States. At the state level, 33 states set no minimum age of criminal responsibility, theoretically allowing a child to be sentenced to criminal penalties at any age [Cipriani,D. Children’s Rights and the Minimum Age of Criminal Responsibility: A Global Perspective, Ashgate 2009, p. 221 and 222], though in most of these states a capacity related test is applied.

Of the States that do set a minimum age of criminal responsibility, North Carolina has the lowest at seven years, while Wisconsin has the highest at ten years. [For full references of state laws see Cipriani D., Children’s rights and the minimum age of criminal responsibility..”

While Nevada does allow the transfer of cases from juvenile to adult courts, there are tests applied to determine the capacity of the individual to form the intent, and a six year old doesn’t meet the test.  Nevada assumes the jurisdiction of a juvenile court except in certain circumstances in which a person who was sixteen or older during the commission of a crime may be transferred to an adult court. [NRS]

Thus, it’s really difficult to find any rationale for the deportation of individuals who were six or under at the time they accompanied their parents into this country, especially in terms of the buzz phrase “law and order.”

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Filed under Immigration, Politics

Of All the Weekends in the World

The President* picks this one to make derogatory comments about people of color, and the nations from which they might have immigrated…. Unbelievable, except this is what we have come to expect.

What is worse in this situation is the further devolution of the Republican Party.  It’s not that we haven’t known since Ronald Reagan chose to open his campaign in Philadelphia, Mississippi with a tip of the hat to States’s Rights that the GOP was treading in dangerous racial territory.

We’ve known since “law and order” became code for African American incarceration. We’ve known since “welfare queen” became the code for people of color receiving social benefits when whites receiving welfare assistance were “down on their luck,” while people of color were lazy.

We’ve known since racists couldn’t make up their minds.  Were non-white immigrants “lazy” dolts who game the social safety system, or were they so hard-working they were soaking up all the American jobs?

We’ve known since the Paul family newsletter, in which a marginal ideological publication attracted marginal people [Atl], that Senator Rand Paul would be an apologist for the White House.  We’ve known since Senator Perdue reminded us of the meaning of “imprecation” [Atl] that a person who quotes Psalms 109:8 “let his days be few” about President Obama would be an apologist for this Oval Office.

However, of all the weekends in the world, this is the one to remember Dr. King’s movement wasn’t about making people feel comfortable.  It was about making people feel as though progress was not only desirable but necessary.

Progress is still desirable and ever more necessary.

 

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Thank You: A List for 2017

thank you cardAs youngsters we were admonished to acknowledge gifts during the holiday season, and not to delay thanking Auntie for bestowing such “creative and unique” items.  That said, this isn’t an obligatory thank you — it’s a Thanks! with a capital letter to those who’ve been an inspiration this year.

 

Thanks to the ladies of the Women’s March!  Prior to that event I’d contacted my Senators and Representatives, but never with any regularity, and certainly never with multiple phone calls in any given month.  The idea of sending post cards hadn’t occurred to me.  I listened to the speakers advise more contact, more persistent contact, more urgent contact — and I bought some postcards.  I also bought a small pocket notebook.  I recorded my calls and post cards in the notebook — at first just to keep track of the topics, and then it became a habit.  The little notebook is half filled now, and I even had to add a piece of ribbon tied on as a bookmark to keep track of my place.  Perhaps I’m gaining a reputation as a pain with a couple of members of the 115th Congress. I don’t care.  They won’t be able to say they’ve not heard from anyone about protecting DACA, or the ACA, or the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau, or the EPA, or women’s reproductive rights, or the rights of workers to organize.   My new year’s prediction is that the little notebook will be filled by this time next year — at least I sincerely hope so.

Thanks to the people who attended town hall meetings!  Those who are dependent on the individual health insurance market to secure health plans need our assistance.  Those on employer  group plans need to know that the provisions of the ACA will require  they have real insurance, as opposed to junk policies with outrageous co-pays, high deductibles and limited benefits.  Those who buy policies need to know mental health treatment is on par with physical health needs, and immunizations are essential services.  And, since as they say “it takes two to tango,” everyone is in the pool — men and women, meaning maternity care is also essential.  To those people who put real faces on real problems — Thank You.  To those people who supported the people testifying to those very real issues — Thank You.

Thanks to the organizers of Indivisible!  Should I run out of ideas on a given day concerning what to say and to  whom to say it, there’s Indivisible online to assist me.  I appreciate the tweets and notices from Nevada Indivisible groups, Indivisible Lake Tahoe, Indivisible Reno, and Indivisible Las Vegas.  You are doing good work, and it’s appreciated.

Thanks to the professionals working on the Special Counsel’s investigation!  I understand those investigators aren’t the total solution to the problem of foreign interference in our elections.  However, they are a key facet of the issue and they’ve endured enough flack from partisan hacks for a lifetime already.  They can’t tell us how to protect our election systems in the future, nor can they tell us what actions our state and local officials can take to prevent future assaults — but they can, and I’m sure will, give us an accurate picture of anything prosecutable.  Their efforts are appreciated.

Thanks to the independent members of the press and media!  There are reporters and broadcasters who are not allowing lies and mischaracterizations from the current administration to go unchallenged.   Not all editors are spiking stories about corruption, maladministration, and mismanagement.  Not all reporters are playing the role of stenographer for government issued blather.  Now, more than ever before in my lifetime, we need FACTS.  Good old fashioned FACTS, and good old fashioned news — the kind wherein we learn not only who is supporting a particular policy, but what the implications of the policy proposals are in real life.

Thus, the little notebook continues to sit beside the phone, the post cards are at the ready, and there’s no shortage of topics upon which to comment.  For this, I say THANKS.

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