Tag Archives: Immigration

Things That Go Bump In The Night and Things That Are Making More Noise Than Sense

Another week of the Trumpster Fire, another week of news from a fire hose, and another week during which we, as news consumers, are required to filter wheat from chaff, and the relevant from the nearly irrelevant.  What things bumping in the night should be attended to? Which can be set off to the side and safely ignored for the moment.

Bumps With More Noise Than Significance

Preliminary public polling results.  The Press/Media is enamored of the latest rendition of The Great Blue Wave.  This is one of the least informative ways of filling one’s air-time.  First, national preference polling is interesting, but all elections are local.  While some members of the punditry are beginning to mouth the words “vote suppression,” and “gerrymandering,” not enough information and analysis has been shared about the effects of these GOP efforts to maintain control of the Congress, and of state elections. Secondly,  there are no national elections for Congressional seats — to state the perfectly obvious.  Those elections will be determined by candidate recruitment and quality, personnel and monetary resources, and campaign competence.  None of these, with the possible exception of shared mailing lists and big donors (monetary resources) is national in scope.  Third, some campaigns will be assisted by the efforts of third party groups. For example, are Union members out canvassing? Are students out doing registration drives?  Are small groups of activists providing services like rides to the polls? The extent and nature of these ancillary groups and their activities will have an impact, we just don’t know the extent to date.  None of this will be “news” to anyone who’s been paying attention to American civic life for the last few decades.

Just because it’s on the news doesn’t necessarily mean it’s important.  The occupant of the Oval Office and some members of the media are still playing the DC parlor game, “Who is Anonymous?” Or anonomus or anamonomous or whatever.  I’m still working on why this might be important.  For my money we still have staff in the executive branch who are willing to explode the national debt in service to tax cuts for the top 0.01% of American income earners, at ease with putting 12,000 children in “detention” facilities for an indefinite period, and quite pleased to allow health insurance companies to charge people with pre-existing medical conditions more for their premiums.  That these people will occasionally arise on their hind legs and proclaim the Great One has gone too far doesn’t impress me.  What would impress me?

How about more attention paid to this nugget:

“Besides family, one of the only people Trump continues to trust is Stephen Miller. “The op-ed has validated Miller’s view, which was also Steve Bannon’s, that there’s an ‘administrative state’ out to get Trump,” a Republican close to the White House said. “There is a coup, and it’s not slow-rolling or concealed,” Bannon told me. “Trump believes there’s a coup,” a person familiar with his thinking said.”

And thus our Oval Office Occupant (Or Triple Zero if spelled 0val 0ffice 0ccupant) is more heavily reliant on a blatantly racist, far right wing conspiracy fabulist, who stokes the Occupant’s most divisive tendencies?  This seems to call for more analysis, and yet the punditry still grasps the Who-Done-It? segment, or pontificates upon the “effect” of the infamous Op-Ed on the President’s “mind set.”  Clue number one a White Nationalist was influencing the 000 might have been the initial Muslim ban?  More clues — no DACA agreement  by Congressional Democrats was ever going to be satisfactory — no one ‘would care’ that there might be children separated from their parents at the southern border — it’s considered acceptable to move funds from FEMA and the Coast Guard to pay for more ICE detention facilities —  it’s supposed to be all right for asylum seeking families to be kept in these detention facilities indefinitely?

Things Not Making So Much Noise But Nevertheless Important

Health care and health insurance.  There is nothing the GOP would enjoy so much as repealing the last semi-colon and comma of the Affordable Care Act.  We’ve heard the “more competition” argument currently coming from the House Speaker before.  It doesn’t make any more sense now than it did then.  Health insurance is not a product analogous to purchasing a motor vehicle or any other consumer product.  One doesn’t choose to get hit by a bus, or hit with a cancer diagnosis, or hit with a complicated pregnancy — or even an uncomplicated one for that matter.

Consumer protection.  While the great fire hose emits its inundation of noise about all things Trumpian, consumer protections enacted to prevent yet another Wall Street melt down are under attack.  The student loan market is being “deregulated.”  Not a good thing.  The smaller issues involved in the Dodd Frank Act have been resolved with some bipartisan legislation, but the administration wants to go further — and the assortment of Goldman Sachs alums in the administration are being ever so helpful in this regard.  Left unchecked we’re going to see another round of de-regulation, which didn’t work out so well for us the last time.  Caveat Emptor American consumer — be careful before voting for any candidate who vows to cut red tape and diminish the “burdens” of regulations — like those preventing the next melt down in the Wall Street Casino.

It’s the Stupid Economy.   Yes. Wall Street has been doing quite nicely thank you very much. I maintain my position that the worst business news is readily available on most broadcast networks.  If a person believes that the DJIA represents the state of the American economy then they’re in for more surprises like the ones which emerged in 2007-08.   Information like real median household income trends is available from FRED, but before we get too excited note median household income numbers may be obscuring other figures like wages adjusted for inflation for full time employees.   Further, what’s being added in to the mix as “income?”  All income includes everything from unemployment benefits to returns on investments.  It’s those returns on investments that have made some very nice progress over the last ten years…wages maybe not so much.  We’re on our own to dive more deeply into the wage issues and income distribution data.  There’s some good news, some bad news, and some news to think about like the 16 straight quarters we’ve had of increasing domestic household debt.  So, it’s time for the question:  Are we seeing candidates for Congress who acknowledge the need for common sense controls on Wall Street casino operations? Who are aware and concerned for wage and salary workers and their economic security?  Are we getting more noise from the highly generalized pie in the sky theoretical visionaries who want us to believe that those with great wealth are going to buy all the homes, cars, washing machines, shoes, movie tickets, and restaurant meals necessary to keep the US economy rolling on?

I could use a little more light on these subjects, and perhaps a bit less bump in the night stuff about a “crisis on the border” (manufactured by the current administration) or “The Press Is Out To Get Me,” from Orange Blossom.   And, I’m looking for Congressional and Senate Candidates who will speak to me about how to fix problems, rather than shout at me about how to fix the blame for them.  I’d like for political discourse to make more sense than noise.

Comments Off on Things That Go Bump In The Night and Things That Are Making More Noise Than Sense

Filed under anti-immigration, banking, Economy, financial regulation, Health Care, health insurance, Heller, Nevada politics, Politics

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!

Comments Off on Our Weekly Fresh Horrors

Filed under Economy, elections, Immigration, Politics

Heller on the Slipface?

angle of reposeLet’s assume for the moment that much of the goings-on at the Residence on Pennsylvania Avenue have less to do with governance, and ever so much more to do with a tender ego, thin skin, and a perfectly illogical, nay irrational, sense of reality.  Further, we might also assume that Senator Dean Heller (R-NV) has calculated a return to his seat in the US Senate predicated on keeping the Trumpian Base happy.  After all, Heller was pleased to support Orange Blossom’s Muslim Ban [RGJ] after expressing some initial “concerns.”  The senior Senator is good at this, i.e. expressing initial concerns prior to caving in faster that a pile of  dry sand with a 35° angle of repose.   So, we shouldn’t be surprised to find he’s caved again.

Thus much for all that opposition to turning Nevada into the nation’s nuclear waste basket (Yucca Mountain), Senator Heller is willing to forgive and forget all that to tell us he has NO reservations about supporting the nomination of Mr. Kavanaugh to the US Supreme Court. [RGJ]  How convenient for the Orange Occupant of the Oval Office?  To have a Senator support the candidate most likely to declare the decision in US vs. Nixon a mistake. [WaPo]  Indeed, how very helpful!

Once having aligned himself with the Orange Occupant’s selection, Senator Heller may have to explain to his audiences (should he decide to have any with living people in them) how he is serving ALL the good people in the Silver State.

People who don’t necessarily believe the decision in Roe v. Wade should be overturned?  People who don’t necessarily believe that gun dealers have more rights than gun violence victims?  People who don’t necessarily believe that people with pre-existing medical conditions should be priced out of the health insurance markets?  People who don’t believe that ICE agents should be arresting and detaining victims of domestic abuse? People who don’t necessarily believe that the function of immigration enforcement agencies is to rip young children away from their parents, and then to be so incapable or incompetent as to make reuniting them nearly impossible — subsequently resorting to the ruse of declaring the un-reunited children as “ineligible” for a return to their parents.  What a cold and miserable calculation that categorization must be?

But, please, Senator Heller, do run as if this were still primary season.  Do cling to the increasingly disjointed, illogical, and downright cruel rantings of the Oval Office Occupant.  Do revert to the wedge issues of the 1980s and 1990s.  I’m sure your opponent, Rep. Jacky Rosen will be pleased to talk about —  offering affordable health care for all Nevadans, promoting women’s health and family well-being, advocating for employment opportunities and equal pay for all Nevada families.

“President Trump is trying to pull up the ladder behind him, leaving the middle class stranded while his super-wealthy buddies turn the federal government into a source of enrichment for themselves. Trump ridicules women, people of color, the LGBTQ community, immigrant families, and anyone who challenges him.” [Rosen]

So, while Senator Heller is clutching the banners on Trump’s bandwagon, Rosen would rather we take our own ride.  We can’t guarantee that the media will do much more than it did in 2016 — spend more time interviewing Trump and the Trumpians than discussing issues raised by Democratic candidates. Therefore, it will be up to Democrats to tell friends and neighbors about Rosen’s (and other Democratic candidates’) position on issues.  Rosen’s are here.

We know we’re about Health Care, Government Reform,  a Clean and Safe Environment, Education, a sane and humane Immigration Policy,  advancing the interests of Senior Citizens, attending to the Security of our Nation.   However, we can’t count on much help from a mass media which treats Republican candidates and their voters like the audience for Duck Dynasty — interesting, intriguing, anomalies who attract their attention.   If Democrats can’t be shiny objects for press and punditry, perhaps we can be loud and proud.

We don’t disparage the different and the disabled. We don’t find it necessary to call the cops on kids selling lemonade, hot dogs, and candy.  We don’t find it uncomfortable if someone who has a “natural tan” is in the swimming pool, or lives next door.  We The People buy up the candy the young lad was selling when the broad beamed bigot decided to launch her verbal assault.  We The People know how to make life a misery for the intolerant who call the cops to barbecues and college common rooms.  We The People know how to identify and shame the shameless. And, if some members of Congress don’t share our values of common decency, concern for the well being of others, or improving the lives of as many of our fellow citizens as possible, then We The People can always change the members of Congress.

The Trumpians, for all we care, can slide down the slipface of history.

Comments Off on Heller on the Slipface?

Filed under Heller, Nevada, Nevada politics, Politics

Waffles Heller, Heller Waffles

Heller spine poster.jpgThere are non-apology apologies (see Orange Blossom’s clumsy Hostage Video) and then there are non-disavowal disavowals (see Senator Dean ‘Clutching Papa’s Pants Leg’ Heller).

“Heller has been slow to criticize Trump as he looks to defend one of the most coveted GOP Senate seats in the country, and stopped well short of criticizing the president in a statementreleased late Monday afternoon.

“While I am not opposed to a dialogue between the two leaders, I trust our intelligence community’s assessment on Russian interference, not Vladimir Putin’s,” Heller said throu spokeswoman. “He is no friend of the United States and I don’t trust him.”  [RGJ]

Oh please!  I’ve tried to stretch the effect of a limited number of tea bags in a jar of sun tea and come out with less tepid ,,results.  Perhaps if the last line had directly pertained to the Orange Blossom, “He is no friend of the United States, and I don’t trust him,”  I’d have accepted this statement with more enthusiasm?

In the wake of the Charlottesville debacle there was a photo floating about of Senator Dean Heller and Peter Cvjetanovic, one of the Tiki Torch Nazis and a UNR student.  Heller responded in Trumpian fashion on Twitter: “I don’t know this person & condemn the outrageous racism, hatred and violence. It’s unacceptable & shameful. No room for it in this country.” [SacBee]  And Senator Heller said of the Orange Blossom?  Orange Blossom read one of his specially prepared on-paper ‘clarifications’ and promptly went right back off the rails with his Very Fine People.

Senator Heller’s spine made a brief reappearance in mid-June during the height of the Trump manufactured immigrant family crisis.  Thirteen Senators, among them Senator Dean Heller, wrote to the Mis-administration saying, in part:

“We support the administration’s efforts to enforce our immigration laws, but we cannot support implementation of a policy that results in the categorical forced separation of minor children from their parents,” the Republican senators wrote.

“We therefore ask you to halt implementation of the Department’s zero tolerance policy while Congress works out a solution that enables faster processing of individuals who enter our country illegally without requiring the forced, inhumane separation of children from their parents,” the senators continued. [TheHill]

Good. Now insert the following search terms into Google: “Nevada Senator Visits Border.” Who shows up in the search results?  Senator Catherine Cortez-Masto (D-NV).  During a June fundraiser with the *president, who got the crowd to chant “Build The Wall,” Senator Heller, “by contrast, spoke for under three minutes and didn’t mention immigration or the separation of children from parents at the border.” [LATimes]  Senator Cortez-Masto and Representative Jacky Rosen visited the border, Senator Heller’s spine went missing yet again.

This is the third instance, in a third major issue, in which Senator Heller has demonstrated his reluctance to take a firm stand — and we might note there’s a tendency on his part to take flexible positions on many other issues —  and to stick to it, even when there is an obvious and palpable reason to STAND for a crucial American attribute.  Charlottesville, Immigration, and now the Helsinki Debacle…strike one, strike two, strike three.

This might explain the following tidbit from the RJ? “Since announcing her candidacy in July 2017, Rosen has outraised Heller $8.3 million to $5.3 million.”  Granted Heller has a cash-on-hand advantage, but fundraising is often a measure of enthusiasm, and it’s hard to get enthusiastic about waffles. They are nice, you can serve them for breakfast, brunch, or lunch, put just about anything on them and they’ll soak it up; it’s just hard to get all that thrilled about them.

Comments Off on Waffles Heller, Heller Waffles

Filed under Heller, Nevada politics, Politics

Random Thoughts and Backfill

trump baby blimpOkay, it’s official. At 18,000£ this is beyond my budget, but it will be so nice to see it in flight tomorrow.  That’s $23773.99 at today’s exchange rate. I can go the 99¢, the rest of it not so much.

So lovely to hear The Angry Man Baby say he wants to meet with former British foreign secretary Boris Johnson.  Precisely what Prime Minister May doesn’t need at the present time as she works to rebuild her rather fragile coalition in the wake of the Brexit debacle.  But, what does AMBaby know of this, he’s not even familiar with the term “hard Brexit.”  Click on that link and a British newspaper will explain it for you.

Now, there IS some news ringing pleasantly in my ears –> Jacky Rosen is outpacing Dean (I have more positions on more issues than the Kamasutra) Heller.  This, I could learn to like very much. Democrats also appear to be doing rather well in the voter registration department, at least according to reports from early this month.

I have an idea!  If the Angry Man Baby wants to see all of Agent Peter Strzok’s non-work related messages to his lover, then let’s swap — Strzok hands over the mushy gushy and Trump hands over his tax returns for the last 20 years?  Fair enough?

obama uk visit

Check out the photo on the left — the Obama state visit to the UK — and compare that to the BBC’s version of Trump’s “working visit” to the Isle this week.  First off, notice the ties the gentlemen are wearing.  Obama = white tie event in Buckingham Palace. Trump = black tie event at Blenheim.  Obama = Queen Elizabeth II herself is in charge of the events, formal and informal, and there were informal social meetings.  Trump = being hosted by QEII’s youngest son Edward, Earl of Wessex, at a Palace — just not one anywhere all that close to London.  Trump =definitely not at Buckingham Palace for a meeting with QEII, he only gets one quick introduction in Windsor.  Wagers his reception from what interested public there might be won’t look anything like the “Harry-Meghan” wedding thing? Somewhere some British bookie is making odds…

Meanwhile, on a sadder note.  CBS reports that “under 3,000” migrant children have NOT been reunited with their parents.   The Misadministration is trying to parse the term “eligible” children such that children of parents who have already been deported aren’t eligible, and thus “don’t count.”   I  still can’t stomach the comment from Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar that the Misadministration is performing great acts of “generosity and charity” by reuniting families. 48 hours after the comment and I still can’t swallow it. There is still obviously NO plan. No coordination. Cruelty begets incompetence.  It’s time for the cruelty to end.  it should never have started.

Comments Off on Random Thoughts and Backfill

Filed under Foreign Policy, Nevada news, Nevada politics, Politics

The Anti Immigration Playbook and the Conflation Game

There are two paragraphs from the US Holocaust Memorial Museum’s website which are becoming more relevant by the day, perhaps by the hour:

One crucial factor in creating a cohesive group is to define who is excluded from membership. Nazi propagandists contributed to the regime’s policies by publicly identifying groups for exclusion, inciting hatred or cultivating indifference, and justifying their pariah status to the populace. Nazi propaganda played a crucial role in selling the myth of the “national community” to Germans who longed for unity, national pride and greatness, and a break with the rigid social stratification of the past.

But a second, more sinister aspect of the Nazi myth was that not all Germans were welcome in the new community. Propaganda helped to define who would be excluded from the new society and justified measures against the “outsiders”: Jews, Sinti and Roma (Gypsies), homosexuals, political dissidents, and Germans viewed as genetically inferior and harmful to “national health” (people with mental illness and intellectual or physical disabilities, epileptics, congenitally deaf and blind persons, chronic alcoholics, drug users, and others).

Let’s take a look at the first paragraph a bit more closely.  The current administration is out to create a “cohesive group” more commonly called “the Base.”  Additionally there are groups to be excluded.  Specifically, immigrants from south and central America and African Americans are rhetorically placed outside the categorization of ‘real Americans.’   In the shorter version — they aren’t white.

Greg Sargent’s analysis nails it:

“Whether he’s talking about Latino immigrants or kneeling African American football players, President Trump has a consistent way of disguising his racism, bigotry and dehumanization while dog-whistling it out to those voters who he believes may thrill to it.

The game is always that Trump fluidly conflates one set of individuals who constitute a less sympathetic target — one he ostensibly goes after, and one that is harder to defend — with the broader group he’s actually trying to belittle or dehumanize but cannot do so overtly.”

And there’s one more point from Sargent’s analysis which should be highlighted:

Dehumanizing rhetoric works in exactly this way: It slaps the dehumanizing slur on the least sympathetic subgroup and then conflates that subgroup with the larger group that is the real target, then piously feigns innocence of any intention to tag the slur on the larger group. The dead giveaway here, as Sanchez also noted, is that this is a selectively applied technique: When Trump attacks criminals who don’t belong to the out-group he’s scapegoating, no such conflation is in evidence.

Trump has given his game away. If it is acceptable to play the Conflation Game then the foundation is laid for policies that separate asylum seeking parents from their children, for yawns and diversions when the subject is raised about some 1500 missing children separated from their parents, for using DACA recipients as bargaining pawn to build an unnecessary and outrageously expensive “wall.”  It’s acceptable because these human beings are “animals.”  Or, as the Nazi’s said of the Jews some 80 years ago, they’re “vermin.”

Now, Democrats aren’t real Americans because “they are protecting the MS 13 thugs” [cnn] — the conflation expands.  The immigrants are conflated with the worst subset of the entire group, and supporters of the vast majority of the group are conflated with the worst subset of the initial group.  It’s a semantic game of smear and divide.  Worse still, it is entirely intentional, and it is entirely exclusionist.

How easy it is to expand this classification of those to be excluded from Trump’s “cohesive group,”  from brown skinned immigrants. to African Americans, to Democrats, to members of the LBGTQ community, to those with serious congenital issues, to labor union activists, to political activists, to … anyone Dear Leader perceives as a threat to his “cohesive group?”

So we move from paragraph one in which the “cohesive group” is defined and division is incited to paragraph two from the Holocaust Memorial in which the “cohesive group” is refined and more groups are excluded.  It’s seamless, it’s intentional, and it’s predicated on syllogistic idiocy:  MS 13 members are immigrants; MS 13 members are criminals; therefore all immigrants are criminals.   I could as easily argue: Donald Trump has (allegedly) hair on his head. Squirrels have hair on their heads (although they don’t need the elaborate comb-over.) Therefore, Donald J. Trump is a squirrel.

In the real world the US is a nation of immigrants.  If it isn’t let’s be done with the St. Patrick’s Day festivities and all those fun Oktoberfest events with the good craft beer.  Let’s do without the joys of Polish and Greek weddings.  Let’s do without the Cinco de Mayo parties. Let’s do without the bagels and lox from the Kosher delis? (I’ll take on anyone to stay in range of a good deli!)  Let’s do without the Chinese New Year celebrations; fireworks, dancers, dragons, and the cute little kids marching?  Let’s do without the African American inspired jazz from New Orleans?  We could be done with all the “non-core-group” items appropriated, revised, re-formed, and remade into American culture — and we could render ourselves into one great giant crashing bore.

In the real world we have benefited from the efforts of immigrants, from the intellectual genius of Albert Einstein to the anonymous farm laborer in Florida.  From the entrepreneurial Google founder Sergey Brin to the anonymous hotel housekeeper in Las Vegas.  We could do without them, I suppose, but we wouldn’t be nearly as prosperous and inventive as we are with them.

It’s time to remember the real Reagan, the President Ronald Reagan who said farewell to his time in office with a speech including the following bits of wisdom:

I’ve been thinking a bit at that window. I’ve been reflecting on what the past 8 years have meant and mean. And the image that comes to mind like a refrain is a nautical one—a small story about a big ship, and a refugee, and a sailor. It was back in the early eighties, at the height of the boat people. And the sailor was hard at work on the carrier Midway, which was patrolling the South China Sea. The sailor, like most American servicemen, was young, smart, and fiercely observant. The crew spied on the horizon a leaky little boat. And crammed inside were refugees from Indochina hoping to get to America. The Midway sent a small launch to bring them to the ship and safety. As the refugees made their way through the choppy seas, one spied the sailor on deck, and stood up, and called out to him. He yelled, “Hello, American sailor. Hello, freedom man.”

And then there’s the more famous portion of it:

I’ve spoken of the shining city all my political life, but I don’t know if I ever quite communicated what I saw when I said it. But in my mind it was a tall, proud city built on rocks stronger than oceans, windswept, God-blessed, and teeming with people of all kinds living in harmony and peace; a city with free ports that hummed with commerce and creativity. And if there had to be city walls, the walls had doors and the doors were open to anyone with the will and the heart to get here. That’s how I saw it, and see it still.

And as we should always continue to see it.

Comments Off on The Anti Immigration Playbook and the Conflation Game

Filed under Immigration, Politics

Dear Congressman, Why Are You

From the Department of Thanks A Bunch But Don’t Do Me Any More Favors

“Nevada’s premiums on the health-care exchange are likely to increase by about $843 next year as a result of Congress’s repeal of the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate and a new Trump administration rule on short-term health insurance plans, according to a new report from the liberal-leaning Center for American Progress.

The report, released Friday, found that annual premiums nationwide will increase from an average of about $6,176 to $7,189 for the average 40-year-old, which is about a 16.4 percent increase. In Nevada, average premiums using the same benchmark are projected to rise from about $5,547 to $6,390, or an increase of about 15 percent.” [NVIndy]

All right, I’m not 40 years old and haven’t been for quite some time, but I can empathize with younger people trying to run households, raise kids, pay the bills, and keep it together.  What they don’t need is a 15% increase in their health insurance premiums.  And who does this help?  It doesn’t help promote the best practices of established health insurance corporations.  It doesn’t help those families who are facing rising costs for groceries and transportation.  It doesn’t help young people to sell them junk insurance that won’t actually cover expenses for major medical expenses for illness or injury.  It seems to primarily help the fly by night scam artists who want to sell insurance policies which barely deserve the name.  You can read the full report ?here.

From the Department of Questions to Ask Congress Critters which Don’t Include Why Are You An A–hole?

Dear Congressman ____ why is it impossible for you to vote in favor of a bill to require universal background checks for gun sales and transfers?  (It’s not like this doesn’t have massive support from the American people.  It’s not like this wouldn’t help to keep firearms out of the hands of individuals who shouldn’t have them in the first place.   And while we’re about it, what’s so impossible about limiting the size of magazines, or keeping guns out of the hands of domestic abusers?)

Dear Congressman ____ why, when banks had their most profitable quarter EVER, would you think it important to roll back the consumer protections of the Dodd Frank Act? [MoneyCNN] [Vox] [WaPo]

Dear Congressman ____ in what perverted universe is it considered acceptable to bait bears with donuts and bacon in order to kill them? To kill hibernating bears? To kill wolf pups? [NYMag]

Dear Congressman ____ Just what purpose is served by vilifying a Central American street gang and conflating its members with ALL immigrants to this great nation?  Criticizing a violent gang is laudable, conflating these people with ALL immigrants is inexcusable.  Since I’m not 40 years old and haven’t been for some time, I recall a time when this nation was recovering from a major war against a state which called Jews “vermin,” dehumanized them, and then used the appellation as an excuse to exterminate them.  Perhaps it’s time to have people, especially politicians, read (or re-read) Elie Wiesel’s Night.

Where does this lead?

“Wiesel’s prose is quietly measured and economical, for florid exaggeration would not befit this subject. Yet, at times, his descriptions are so striking as to be breathtaking in their pungent precision. He writes through the eyes of an adolescent plunged into an unprecedented moral hinterland, and his loss of innocence is felt keenly by the reader. His identity was strained under such conditions: “The student of Talmud, the child I was, had been consumed by the flames. All that was left was a shape that resembled me. My soul had been invaded – and devoured – by a black flame.” Night.

When bad things are done by bad people, bad things happen to innocent people.

Or maybe it would simply be easier to ask, Dear Congressman ____ why are you an A-hole?

Comments Off on Dear Congressman, Why Are You

Filed under ecology, financial regulation, Gun Issues, Health Care, health insurance, Immigration, Politics

Distraction to Destruction: The Great Immigration Diversion

If a political party doesn’t want to discuss problems like, say, income inequality? Or, gun violence? Or, vote suppression? Or, Heaven Fore-fend, the interference in our elections by a hostile foreign power? — Then what better diversion than Immigration.  Better still, the issue can be framed such that it appeals to the lesser little devils of our nature like racism, and thus be an “acceptable” way to insert racism into our national political discourse as if it were a legitimate topic of immediate consideration.

“Immigrants today account for 13.4% of the U.S. population, nearly triple the share (4.7%) in 1970. However, today’s immigrant share remains below the record 14.8% share in 1890, when 9.2 million immigrants lived in the U.S.”  [Pew]

Thus much for the Huge Wave of Immigrants. It shouldn’t escape anyone’s notice that the immigrants being vilified are coming to our southern border. Those would be the Mexican immigrants, and those from Central American nations — probably the brown versions of human beings, and therefore not likely to assimilate.

“Mexico is the top origin country of the U.S. immigrant population. In 2015, 11.6 million immigrants living in the U.S. were from there, accounting for 27% of all U.S. immigrants. The next largest origin groups were those from China (6%), India (6%), the Philippines (5%) and El Salvador (3%).  By region of birth, immigrants from South and East Asia combined accounted for 27% of all immigrants, a share equal to that of Mexico.”   [Pew]

Oops, there goes another bit of nativist mythology.  Interesting, those crowds bellowing “Build The Wall” aren’t chanting about the 27% of immigrants from South and East Asia.  We can drill down on this a bit more:

“About 1 million immigrants arrive in the U.S. each year. In 2015, the top country of origin for new immigrants coming into the U.S. was India, with 110,000 people, followed by Mexico (109,000), China (90,000) and Canada (35,000).

By race and ethnicity, more Asian immigrants than Hispanic immigrants have arrived in the U.S. each year since 2010. Immigration from Latin America slowed following the Great Recession, particularly from Mexico, which has seen net losses in U.S. immigration over the past few years.”  [Pew]

The “Build The Wall” Gang seem to have missed this point.  To miss the point is to base one’s perception of immigration on the situation before 2010.  Moreover, the Wall is whatever the audience wants it to be.  It’s a real, physical barrier [ChiTrib] [vox] or a metaphor for making white Americans feel like the government is ‘protecting’ them (and their privileges) from incursions by brown people. [Hill] [VanityFair]

What is generally missing from coverage of the administration’s use of the Build The Wall campaign litany is any factual context.  It seems sufficient to the corporate media to show clips of the incantations of “Build The Wall” during rallies, without offering any information explaining that the pretext is a vision of American immigration which is at least eight years old, and is currently statistically indefensible.

It’s also readily apparent the corporate media would rather not discuss the elephant in the room — the underpinning of this perspective on immigration is partially if not essentially racist.  This shouldn’t be too surprising.  This would be the same press that can barely enunciate the word, and applies a host of euphemisms to describe racist remarks as “racially charged,” “distasteful,” “derogatory,” and “racially tinged.” [HuffPo] Again, this would be the same DC press which keeps labeling Trumpian expressions as “counterfactual,” “factual shortcut,” “stretched truth,” and “misleading statement,” [Week] instead of the more accurate old fashioned term — L.I.E. [NYT]

The current occupant of the Oval Office may be right about one thing — his is a made for TV administration, replete with a continuing fountain of daily (hourly?) emissions which fill what might otherwise be dead air.  It is, “news” from a fire hose.  The problem is that it floods any time which might be spared for context and analysis.  Should even tenuous contextualization, analysis, and evaluation be applied the Occupant screams “fake news,” and the chanting rally crowds applaud Dear Leader.

Caveat Emptor.  The chanters are investing in a distraction to divert them from the destruction of their own economic well being, and sense of community.  Arguing with them doesn’t work; their fact-free bubble of Faux News precludes any analysis in conflict with their fundamental racism.  Better to speak to and for those who advocate for a rational and comprehensive immigration policy, and out-vote the ditto-heads who chant “Build The Wall,” and “Amnesty,” whenever it might be suggested that a rational comprehensive policy would be preferable to emotional, irrational, racism.

Comments Off on Distraction to Destruction: The Great Immigration Diversion

Filed under Immigration, Politics

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.

1 Comment

Filed under Immigration, Politics

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.

1 Comment

Filed under Politics