Archive for February, 2017

WASHINGTON — Immigration advocates want to know whether a program blocking deportations of troops’ family members has been shut down as part of the White House’s crackdown on illegal immigration.
“This president’s rushed and ill-considered executive orders may have, intentionally or inadvertently, removed those protections,” said Rep. Henry Cuellar, D-Texas, and a key voice on border security issues for his party.
“It’s common decency and common sense: how could a soldier, sailor, airman or Marine focus on their duty, when their spouse or child could be deported at any time?”
Department of Homeland Security officials haven’t announced whether the “Parole in Place” program — instituted in November 2013 as a military readiness initiative — has been affected by recent executive orders issued by President Donald Trump.
On Tuesday, DHS officials released a series of implementation plans for those orders, including a statement asserting that “the lawful detention of aliens arriving in the United States and deemed inadmissible … is the most efficient means by which to enforce the immigration laws at our borders.”
Enforcing that includes hiring new agents to “detect, track, and apprehend all aliens illegally entering the United States,” with discretion for DHS officials and judges to grant exceptions for some foreign nationals. It specifies that parole programs should be “exercised sparingly.”


The recent op-ed piece by Paul Hollis and John Kay was one big lie from start to finish. President Barack Obama and congressional Democrats did not “ram” Obamacare through. Negotiations between Democrats and Republicans began as soon as Obama took office in January of 2009. The ACA was not signed until March 23, 2010 — after much debate and many votes. The Republicans were pretty clear that they could not possibly care less about the plight of uninsured Americans. They still don’t. The ACA was outright sabotaged from Day One by the Republicans in Congress and their stooges in the red states. Did some folks lose their existing policies after the ACA was passed? Yes, but this was almost entirely due to the fact that old-style catastrophic coverage plans are no longer considered as real insurance. Those plans provided slim coverage with high deductibles and still weren’t cheap. They have been replaced with actual insurance that provides real, reliable coverage at a reasonable price. There were generous subsidies offered to those who couldn’t afford to pay. Did some people end up worse off? Again — yes — but if you balance the few hundred thousand individuals who are paying more now against the 20 million who couldn’t get insurance before, there is no comparison. Premiums are currently on the rise. However, so are the subsidies. According to the Kaiser Foundation, in all but two states, a 40-year-old non-smoker earning $40,000 a year will see NO increase in his net out-of-pocket because as his premiums go up, so do the subsidies. In Massachusetts, where Obamacare was invented by a Republican, over 97 percent of the people have health insurance. The mandate that forces you to buy insurance is solely the product of the conservative Heritage Foundation. It wanted to prevent what it referred to as “freeloaders” on our healthcare system. Until this GOP plan was adopted by a Democratic president, conservatives thought that it was the greatest thing since sliced bread. When President Obama agreed, they dropped it like a hot rock. This was part one of the million-part-plan by the GOP to make Obama a single-term president. Big picture: the ACA has achieved its primary goal of reducing by nearly half the number of uninsured in the United States. In Louisiana alone, we went from 22 percent of our citizens with no health insurance to 12.5 percent. There is still work to do. Trump and the Republicans are not willing to do it. All they want is to take us back to where we were eight years ago when, according to the Harvard Medical School, 45,000 Americans died every year just because they didn’t have insurance. Unacceptable.

At the age of 70, Donald Trump is not about to grow up. He ran a dishonest and tawdry presidential campaign. He continues to disparage John McCain’s heroism and public service, characterizing him as a loser. In spirit, it is no different than his criticism of the Gold Star parents of Humayun Khan, who lost his life while serving in Iraq. Trump felt that while the Khans had sacrificed, so had he — in building a business. If there is a Guinness Book of Narcissism, this is in it. It is not only Stengel who comes to mind. So does Richard Nixon. He, too, assembled a coterie of zealots who were itching to make (domestic) war on anyone and everyone. For a time, the old Nixon was forgotten. A new one was declared. Supposedly gone was the mudslinger of yore, the pol with the twitchy insecurities and a metastasizing inventory of resentments. But the old Nixon was always lurking.

In the end, Nixon had to quit. I believe Trump will meet a similar fate, but things have changed since Nixon’s time. The Senate, which in the end gave Nixon the fatal nudge, is not the institution it once was. (Where have you gone, Barry Goldwater?) As for the so-called mainstream media, it has nowhere near its old influence nor its old audience. Little works as it once did. Even the electoral college, designed to keep a Trump out of the White House, became the vehicle for his victory.

The remedy remains political courage — a determination, particularly by congressional Republicans, to reject the normalization of Trump and his ways. Trump will not change. The question is whether an opportunistic and supine Congress will. ~Richard Cohen




Medicaid Expansion in Louisiana

Finally, under a Democratic Governor, Medicaid was expanded in Louisiana. Article: The Louisiana Department of Health announced on Thursday that enrollment is at 400,635 new enrollees. A recent Gallup report found the uninsured rate in Louisiana fell by nearly half from 21.7 percent in 2013 to 12.5 percent in 2016.According to stats from LDH, more than 58,700 adults have now received at least one preventive or primary care service after enrolling in the expansion. Sixty-seven women have been newly diagnosed with breast cancer, and 1,193 adults newly diagnosed with diabetes, among other outcomes cited. Michele Kidd Sutton, president and CEO of North Oaks Health System in Hammond, said in the LDH release that the hospital has seen a 60 percent increase in mammograms for Medicaid patients, 61 percent increase in bone density screenings and a 26 percent increase in cervical cancer screenings. These are all real people, with real needs, who have had their lives changed for the better.

Mr. Trump fails to take into account the major hurdle the wall faces: eminent domain. To build the wall, the U.S. would need to own all 1,954 miles of the border. Most of this land is now private property—especially in Texas, where the U.S. government owns only 100 miles of the 1,254-mile border. To acquire the rest of the land it would need, Washington would need to employ eminent domain, the authority under the Fifth Amendment to seize private property for public use upon payment of “just compensation.” Recent history shows that’s easier said than done. In 2006 Congress passed the Secure Fence Act with strong bipartisan backing, including the support of New York Democrat Chuck Schumer, now Senate minority leader. The law authorized construction of a border fence along 700 miles of the U.S.-Mexico border, including 100 miles in Texas. Lawmakers expected swift completion of the project. Instead, a decade later, there are unfenced gaps—because the fence had to have holes to accommodate local ranchers whose cattle graze on the southern side, but also due to property owners’ fighting land seizures in federal court.

At the end of 2016, more than 120 separate cases pertaining to eminent-domain seizures for the fence were still active in the U.S. court system. In 2009 the Department of Homeland Security inspector general issued a report that noted, “Acquiring real property from non-federal owners is a costly, time-consuming process requiring negotiations and sometimes condemnation.”

This is sad on so many levels. My younger daughter was with AmeriCorps. Article: The White House budget office has drafted a hit list of programs that President Trump could eliminate to trim domestic spending, including longstanding conservative targets like the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, the Legal Services Corporation, AmeriCorps and the National Endowments for the Arts and the Humanities.

Because of my daughter’s work at Star, I also am aware of the program and hope that its funding will not be cut. Article: Without STAR’s help, Crain said, life would have been much more difficult in the months since she reported being raped. Now groups like STAR and others that help Louisiana victims of sexual assault and domestic violence are growing concerned about the future of their federal funding under President Trump’s administration — money that pays for most of their budgets.  The groups are largely funded by federal Violence Against Women Act grants, with Louisiana getting about $24.2 million since 2012, according to the Office on Violence Against Women, the U.S. Department of Justice division that runs the grant program. 

In Today’s Newspapers/Quotes

The Trump opposition-Democrats, unions, Never Trumpers-now know that if they can turn three Republican senators against him, he won’t matter. ~Daniel Henninger from Wall Street Journal


And now with Betsy DeVos at the helm, we have something we’ve never seen before-widespread fear of the Education Department by the left. So it’s not time to wait four more years to try to dismantle the department. The time for that is now. ~Neal P. McCluskey from Cato Institute



“This is not about who won the election. This is about concerns about intuitional integrity,” said Mark Lowenthal, a former senior intelligence official. “It’s probably unprecedented to have this difficult a relationship between agencies.” “I can’t recall ever seeing this level of friction. And it’s just not good for the country.”


Trump’s fear of opening his tax returns to public scrutiny could go beyond reveling what Donald Jr. called family’s considerable business dealings with
Russia. The release could also expose a net worth well below the billion-dollar mark. ~ Froma Harrop


Steve Schmidt, who worked in President George W. Bush’s administration. “This is something entirely different. The ineptitude, the sloppiness, the incompetence and the chaos are unprecedented.”


Let’s talk about the swamp. If we have learned anything about the Trump presidency, it is that Mr. Trump and his chief political strategist, Steve Bannon, despise the Washington swamp, which includes the city’s lobbyists, all of its bureaucrats, every member of the media, the entire congressional delegation and their staffs. Forgotten now is that Nixon didn’t resign because of anything proven by the anonymous torrent, but only after he saw he’d lost the support of his own party in Congress. We’re not there, yet. ~Daniel Henninger from Wall Street Journal






Steve Bannon vs. Pope Francis?




Bannon believes that “the Judeo-Christian West is in a crisis.” He calls for a return of “the church militant” who will “fight for our beliefs against this new barbarity,” which threatens to “completely eradicate everything that we’ve been bequeathed over the last 2,000, 2,500 years.” Where Francis has insisted on dialogue with Muslims, Bannon points to “the long history of the Judeo-Christian West struggle against Islam” and reaches as far back as the eighth century to praise “forefathers” who defeated Islam on the battlefield and “kept it out of the world, whether it was at Vienna, or Tours, or other places.” “See what’s happening,” Bannon insists, “and you will see we’re in a war of immense proportions.




On the surface, some of Bannon’s economic views would seem to match Francis’s. In his speech broadcast to the group in Rome, Bannon spoke against “a brutal form of capitalism that is really about creating wealth and creating value for a very small subset of people.” But as Faggioli notes, Bannon links his criticism of capitalism to nationalism, which makes his views more similar to those of far-right groups in the 1920s and ’30s such as Action Francaise, a French nationalist group condemned by the Vatican. Francis’s economics, on the other hand, focus on global concerns, including climate change.



Trump won overwhelmingly among conservative American Catholics last year, and many of them likely sympathize with aspects of Bannon’s nationalist outlook. But the tensions between Trump and Francis are likely to grow. Ironically, given the opposition to him among many American bishops, Obama’s foreign policy was far closer to the Vatican’s approach than is Trump’s. And Trump’s moves against refugees and immigrants mobilized even conservative bishops to loud condemnations. The fact that about a third of American Catholics are Latino weighs heavily in the church’s thinking.

Bannon is unlikely to want Trump to force American Catholics to choose between their president and their pope. But the battle is on to define the meaning of both Americanism and Catholicism. Bannon’s worldview could incite the same showdown in the church that he has already ignited in politics.


He’s made the paranoid style of American politics go mainstream.
Nowhere is Trump’s embrace of oddball ideas and cranks more evident than his courtship of Jones, a 42-year-old Texan who built a lucrative media empire by hawking anti-radiation tablets and fulminating about “false flag” operations and the globalist cabal. It was previously unthinkable for a major-party nominee to appear on Jones’ show (broadcast from “FEMA Region 6”), but Trump is an exception. Stone has appeared regularly on Jones’ daily program, and the two were inseparable at the GOP convention, where they co-hosted a pro-Trump rally. Campaign aides and Donald Trump Jr. have promoted Infowars stories on social media. And Trump himself, who phoned into Jones’ show last December for a friendly chat, has welcomed the host’s support and parroted his message to a degree that has shocked even Jones. “It is surreal to talk about issues here on air, and then word-for-word hear Trump say it two days later,” Jones confessed on the air in early August.
But it’s not just Clinton who’s in the crosshairs of the Trump-Jones conspiracy machine—it’s electoral democracy itself. This summer, Jones warned of an attempt at “rigging” the election to deny Trump the presidency. He proposed sending teams of cameramen to polling sites to document the “illegals” voting for Clinton. By early August, Trump was channeling Jones in his stump speech. “I’m afraid the election is going to be rigged, I have to be honest,” he said. He told the Washington Post that he feared unscrupulous Democrats would try to “vote 10 times.” By injecting so much distrust into electoral results, Trump could delegitimize a Clinton victory, setting himself up as a bomb-thrower in exile.
No wonder Jones has told listeners that he’s urged Trump to keep pushing the “rigged election” narrative. The Infowars host filmed a short segment wondering if the Democrats would try to have him killed. After all, by calling him out, Clinton did something his enemies, those globalist tyrants and UN stooges, had spent years avoiding at all costs. “You don’t say, ‘Alex Jones’! You never say the name Alex Jones!” he said. “But more and more, they have to speak the name that no one says.” For once, he had a point—a lot of people were saying it.


Stephen Bannon and Donald Trump –The question should be what are their beliefs and what ideas are they basing their actions? What is behind this Muslim Ban? And the deeper reason for the soon to see more and more rounding up of undocumented immigrants. Both men seem to be showing the country they want to burn everything down which includes Washington Establishment, our norms and our institutions. But Why? And what will come next after everything comes crashing down? To get anywhere with answering these questions the Alt-Right must be studied.


Article: In July, Bannon, who soon would leave Breitbart to become a top campaign aide to Trump, was interviewed by journalist Sarah Posner. He proudly declared of Breitbart, “We’re the platform for the alt-right.” The alt-right is an extreme but not well-defined wing of the conservative movement that rants against immigrants, Muslims, the globalist agenda, and multiculturalism and that generally advocates white nationalism (if not white supremacism—in this world, there is a difference). The alt-right also generates a hefty amount of anti-Semitism.

In March, the website published an article headlined “An Establishment Conservative’s Guide to the Alt-Right,” which was co-written by Milo Yiannopoulos, a prominent figure in the movement. It noted that the alt-right opposed “full ‘integration'” of racial groups: “The alt-right believe that some degree of separation between peoples is necessary for a culture to be preserved.”


What does Spencer, the intellectual guru of the movement, advocate? He is quite explicit: an all-white United States. This is not a secret. In a recent interview with Mother Jones, Spencer explained his belief that America’s white population is endangered, due to multiculturalism and immigration, and he advocated “a renewed Roman Empire,” a dictatorship where only white people could be citizens. “You cannot view another white person as your enemy,” he remarked. His goal is a white ethnostate. How to get there may be unclear. He added that he hoped America’s nonwhites can be convinced to leave the country on their accord: “It’s like presenting to an African that this hasn’t worked out. We haven’t made each other happier. We are going to have to take part in this paradigmatic shift together.” During the campaign, Spencer declared, Trump “loves white people.” 

Race is central to the alt-right. Ben Shapiro, a former Breitbart editor, notes, “The alt-right, in a nutshell, believes that Western culture is inseparable from European ethnicity.” That is, being white.




I rehash this weather history because it’s not subject to debate. This is tantamount to Trump declaring black is white or day is night. It was overcast, and he declared that it was “really sunny.” This disconnect from reality is my biggest fear about Trump, more than any one policy he has proposed. My worry is the president of the United States is barking mad.


“More than anyone else I have ever met,” Tony Schwartz, Trump’s ghostwriter for “The Art of the Deal,” told the New Yorker’s Jane Mayer at the time, “Trump has the ability to convince himself that whatever he is saying at any given moment is true, or sort of true, or at least ought to be true.” My Post colleague Jennifer Rubin, a conservative blogger, picked up on this theme in an important post this week, recalling Sen. Ted Cruz’s (R-Tex.) description of Trump as somebody who “doesn’t know the difference between truth and lies” and “his response is to accuse everybody else of lying.” Rubin raised the prospect that Trump might eventually need to be declared unfit to serve under the 25th Amendment if he can’t “separate what he wants to believe and what exists.”



That’s why it’s unnerving that Trump not only decided that he saw 1 million or 1.5 million people watching his inauguration but also that he pressured the head of the National Park Service to support his fantasy.


That’s why it’s frightening not only that Trump embraces the fantasy that millions voted illegally but also that he supports the falsehood by citing a Pew Center on the States report that says nothing about voter fraud — and by claiming pro golfer Bernhard Langer was turned away from voting in Florida while other, suspicious-looking people were permitted to cast provisional ballots. Langer, a German citizen, can’t vote in the United States, and it turns out he witnessed no such thing.


When Trump caused international havoc with tweets about China, North Korea and others, there was speculation that he was pursuing the “madman theory” to unsettle adversaries by making them think he’s crazy.


He’s doing such a convincing job of it that I worry that being a madman isn’t Trump’s theory but his reality.


Trump suggested a moral equivalency between the United States and Vladimir Putin’s Russia. This time, Mr. Trump didn’t apologize for America. He indicted it. He did so in language unprecedented for any sitting or former president. He did it in a manner guaranteed, and perhaps calculated, to vindicate every hard-left slander of “Amerika.” If you are the sort who believes the CIA assassinated JFK, masterminded the crack-cocaine epidemic, and deliberately lied us into the war in Iraq—conspiracy theories on a moral par with the way the Putin regime behaves in actual fact—then this president is for you. Only he’s worse. Mr. Trump’s purpose, by contrast, isn’t to prevent a recurrence of bad behavior. It’s to permit it. The larger question for conservatives is how Mr. Trump’s dim view of the world will serve them over time. Honorable Republicans such as Nebraska’s Sen. Ben Sasse have been unequivocal in their outrage, which will surely cost them politically. Others have hit the mute button, on the theory that it’s foolish to be baited by the president’s every crass utterance. The risk is that silence quickly becomes a form of acquiescence. Besides, since when did conservatives reared to their convictions by the rhetoric of Winston Churchill and Ronald Reagan hold words so cheap?


In Time Magazine article titled – The California Republic Comes Roaring Back.  Back in his studio in San Francisco, artist Eric Rewitzer takes issue with the notion that he lives in a bubble, though the reality he describes sounds rather bubble-like—a place where people all believe in the same progressive future. “When Trump won, it reminded me how comfortable I had become in just accepting that progress was going to continue. If the bubble is anything, it’s a sense of comfort that we’re doing the right thing,” he says. “What happened after the election is I felt I have to stand up. I can’t take for granted that this is the way good people think everywhere.”


Last week’s executive order on immigration continues to reverberate. The handling of the order further legitimized the desire of many congressional Republicans to distance themselves from the president, something they feel they’ll eventually have to do anyway because they know how to evaluate political horse flesh, and when they look at him they see Chief Crazy Horse. What went wrong has been fully adjudicated in the press. But this should be said: The president and his advisers are confusing boldness with aggression. They mean to make breakthroughs and instead cause breakdowns. The overcharged circuits are leaving them singed, too. People don’t respect you when you create chaos. Prudence is not weakness, and carefulness is a virtue, not a vice. If all this was spontaneous, the left is strong indeed. If it was a matter of superior organization, that’s impressive too. You should never let your enemy know its own strength. They discovered it in the Women’s March, know it more deeply now, and demonstrated it to Democrats on the Hill. It was after the demonstrations that Democratic senators started boycotting the confirmation hearings. They now have their own tea party to push them around. Americans want an America that looks after itself, but they don’t admire bigotry or respect prejudice. They’re embarrassed by it.

I wish I could agree with those who say we should pay little attention to President Trump’s verbal eruptions and focus only on concrete actions, but I can’t. It matters that the most powerful man in the world insists on “facts” that are nothing but self-aggrandizing fantasy. It matters that the president of the United States seems incapable of publicly admitting any error. It matters that Trump’s need for adulation appears to be insatiable.

My point is that Trump’s off-the-wall statements and Twitter rants cannot be dismissed as mere attempts to distract. We have a president who is obsessed with his public standing, given to outlandish statements, eager to believe in conspiracy theories and unwilling to admit when he is wrong. To our peril, his character and moods will shape his policies. ~ Eugene Robinson / The Washington Post


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