Revolting

Oh what the hell. Let’s separate parents from children at the border. They shouldn’t be there in the first place, so why not?

The policy shift would allow the government to keep parents in custody while they contest deportation or wait for asylum hearings. Children would be put into protective custody with the Department of Health and Human Services, in the “least restrictive setting” until they can be taken into the care of a U.S. relative or state-sponsored guardian.

Currently, families contesting deportation or applying for asylum are generally released from detention quickly and allowed to remain in the United States until their cases are resolved. A federal appeals court ruling bars prolonged child detention.

Tear children away from their parents and put them in government foster care homes. That’s humane, right?

Expect lawsuits. Expect appeals to the UN Human Rights Council. Expect violence.

This is the America 63 million of our fellow citizens voted for. It sure as hell isn’t mine.

Radical Republican Ecoterrorists

Headline: Climate, Other Programs Get Deep Cuts in EPA Budget Proposal

Under the tentative plan from the Office of Management and Budget, the agency’s funding would be reduced by roughly 25 percent and about 3,000 jobs would be cut, about 19 percent of the agency’s staff.

[snip]

The draft proposal for the EPA would cut its annual budget from about $8.2 billion to $6.1 billion. Proposed cuts include reducing the climate protection budget by nearly 70 percent to $29 million, the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative by 97 percent to $10 million and environmental justice programs by 79 percent to $1.5 million.

Also targeted for steep spending rollbacks are the agency’s monitoring and enforcement of compliance with environmental laws, as well as regional projects intended to benefit degraded areas such as the Chesapeake Bay, Puget Sound and the Gulf of Mexico. A program dealing with San Francisco Bay that received $4.8 million last year would be eliminated, as would initiatives for reducing diesel emissions and beach water quality testing.

NOAA doesn’t escape, either. A draft memo shows it takes a 17% haircut. So much for monitoring changes to climate, weather, oceans and coasts.

Fortunately, there are a lot of people who live in the areas where these cuts would take place, and their representatives in Congress are aware of the need for these programs to continue. But it shows just how radical the Trump Administration is and how willing it is to pander to the extractive industries without regard for the health of the population.

Hello, 21st Century

I have had a candy bar or flip phone ever since I succumbed to my first cellphone purchase in 2006 when I realized it would be useful to have one in case the car died while I was in it. Finally, today, I bought an actual smart phone. Not the six or seven hundred dollar iPhone or Samsung, mind you, but a barebones LG with a camera and browser capability.

Ta da!

Now if only I could get the Tracfone app to tell me how many minutes I have left before my days run out. It’s around 800 before I have to worry. I don’t really think I’m gonna use all those by March 29 when my time runs out, but it would be helpful if the thing told me how many remain. It’s supposed to, but tapping the little “minutes remaining” part of the menu yields nothing.

Email ’em or chat at them tomorrow, I guess.

AG Sessions has convenient memory lapse, twice

WaPo Headline Thursday March 2, 2017: “Sessions met with Russian envoy twice last year, encounters he later did not disclose”

Then-Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) spoke twice last year with Russia’s ambassador to the United States, Justice Department officials said, encounters he did not disclose when asked about possible contacts between members of President Trump’s campaign and representatives of Moscow during Sessions’s confirmation hearing to become attorney general.

[snip]

At his Jan. 10 Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing, Sessions was asked by Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) what he would do if he learned of any evidence that anyone affiliated with the Trump campaign communicated with the Russian government in the course of the 2016 campaign.

“I’m not aware of any of those activities,” he responded. He added: “I have been called a surrogate at a time or two in that campaign and I did not have communications with the Russians.”

[snip]

In January, Sen. Patrick J. Leahy (D-Vt.) asked Sessions for answers to written questions. “Several of the President-elect’s nominees or senior advisers have Russian ties. Have you been in contact with anyone connected to any part of the Russian government about the 2016 election, either before or after election day?” Leahy wrote.

Sessions responded with one word: “No.”

This is catnip for Brian Williams at MSNBC.

It seems to me that Sessions should at least recuse himself from any investigation about contacts between the Trump campaign and the Russian government. Some would say he should resign, since it appears he committed perjury (nominees are under oath during confirmation hearings). I admit that wouldn’t break my heart. The guy is the top law enforcement officer in this country, and he appears to be a liar like his boss.

Let the pogroms begin

If this new Homeland Security agency called Victims of Immigration Crime Engagement were properly staffed it would be a part-time job, given that according to a 2015 Cato Institute study

the numbers show that immigrants commit fewer crimes than native-born Americans. But that’s not good enough for Trump’s followers. They firmly believe immigrants make America less safe.

This is scary stuff. It smacks of the Bannon/Miller axis in the White House, white supremacists that they are. Its purpose is vague: it’s supposed to “serve American victims by giving them a voice,” Trump said. In the DHS memo it sounds innocuous enough:

but it could easily be subverted to inflame passions against immigrants further, and we’ve already seen plenty of crimes visited on immigrants or American citizens who had the wrong color skin. Even as Trump acknowledged the murder of an Indian engineer in Kansas City last week he managed in this speech to suggest that many immigrants are criminals.

He knows what he’s doing, too. This is the same man who announced his candidacy for President by slandering Mexicans as murderers and rapists.

The Immigration Facts Donald Trump Doesn’t Like

Oust millions of people from the economy and just watch the G.D.P. drop.

Source: The Immigration Facts Donald Trump Doesn’t Like – The New York Times

I differ slightly with the Times’s headline. I don’t think Trump knows the facts, and I don’t think he’s interested in hearing them. I think he’s fixated on being a President who fulfills his campaign promises no matter who gets harmed and no matter how outlandish they were.

The American Action Forum last year estimated that expelling all unauthorized immigrants, and keeping them out, would cost $400 billion to $600 billion, and reduce the gross domestic product by $1 trillion.

Mr. Trump describes immigrants as rapist-murderer-terrorists, but what they really are is a pillar of the American economy, producing a net benefit of about $50 billion since 1990. Farms and restaurants, hotels, manufacturers, retail businesses — all sectors of the economy benefit directly or indirectly from immigrant labor.

Imprisoning them while they get their required-by-law due process before expulsion?

All the people Mr. Kelly rounds up will have to be detained and deported at taxpayer expense. Congress requires the Homeland Security Department to maintain about 34,000 immigration detention beds, at an estimated annual cost of $2 billion, or $5.5 million a day. Adding thousands more cells and beds will surely send that bill — like the profits of the private-prison contractors who have been cashing in on all this misery — through the roof.

It seems that no one in the Administration has the sense or the willingness to explain this to Trump, or perhaps he has no interest in hearing it. That’s more likely.

The “deportation force” may or may not hit its 11 million target, the wall may or may not stretch from the Pacific to the Gulf of Mexico, but terror and intimidation have already spread through immigrant communities. And this is what the nativists who have been schooling the president want.

The larger costs to the economy, and the dire human toll, do not concern them.

I disagreed with almost everything George W. Bush did while he was in office but I didn’t loathe him. Words cannot express how much I despise Trump and his crowd.

Sad occasion to go to the beach

A friend of 36 years passed away last June, and today there was a scattering of ashes and a celebration of his life at Queen’s Surf Beach in Waikiki. There were probably 60-70 people there.

Our relationship was primarily one of working together until we both moved on from those jobs, and then it was one where we saw each other once a year at the Super Bowl party he held every year but one from 1991 to 2014. Tonight I learned things I’d never known. I didn’t know that he was an avid snorkeler and diver. When he and his wife first arrived here they spent a lot of time in the waters at that beach, so it was fitting that the ceremony should be held there.

As part of tonight’s ceremony we had the opportunity to take one of the shells Peter had collected over the years and return it to the ocean as his ashes were scattered offshore from an outrigger canoe. That was kind of special.

Once again, old friend, rest in peace.

This is box-of-rocks level stupid

Ladies and germs, this is the website for the House Republican’s plan to replace the Affordable Care Act.

There is a plan to get there

The House Republican Healthcare Plan lowers costs, provides more control and more choices to pick a plan that meets our needs, not a plan that Washington mandates.

That’s it. Oh, there’s a 0:31 second video you can watch. It ends with the exhortation “Learn more at http://www.abetterhealthcareplan.com,” which, as we’ve seen, has a title and a single sentence.

They are flailing. They didn’t expect the pushback they’re getting at town hall meetings. They thought they’d be treated as saviors, relieving Americans from the oppression of Obama and his plan. One of them, Rep. Mike Burgess of Texas,

came up with a novel approaching [sic] to the messaging this afternoon: “If the numbers [of people with health insurance] drop, I’d say that is a good thing.”

He had been asked at the Conservative Political Action Conference here about how to defend decreased health coverage under repeal and/or replacement, Burgess who chairs the health subcommittee of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, targeted the individual mandate that requires people to buy insurance. “We’re not going to send an IRS agent down to chase you down and make you buy health insurance, so if the numbers drop, I’d say that is a good thing because we’ve restored personal liberty, and I’m always for that,” he said.

Quoth the author of the article, Robert Schlesinger of US News, “If you listened to Burgess, you’d think that all or most of those people were dragged kicking and screaming into the system and that they yearn for liberation from the tyranny of being able to afford catastrophic illness.”

One of their elders, former Speaker John Boehner, even said yesterday, “They’re basically going to fix the flaws and put a more conservative box around it.” His reasoning? “In the 25 years that I served in the United States Congress, Republicans never, ever one time agreed on what a healthcare proposal should look like. Not once,” Boehner said.

I hope he’s right.

CEO Presidency

News Item: How Trump’s campaign staffers tried to keep him off Twitter

They feed him as much praise as they can find in the media.

The key to keeping Trump’s Twitter habit under control, according to six former campaign officials, is to ensure that his personal media consumption includes a steady stream of praise. And when no such praise was to be found, staff would turn to friendly outlets to drum some up — and make sure it made its way to Trump’s desk.

[snip]

Staff members had one advantage as they aimed to manage candidate Trump’s media diet: He rarely reads anything online, instead preferring print newspapers — especially his go-to, The New York Times…

[snip]

“Trump is also, however, a near-nonstop consumer of cable news…”

When the hell does he do any work if he’s watching the tube all day accumulating grievances? Also, it’s not like he’s got a fully-staffed White House to do his work for him. As of two days ago he still had 514 senior positions without nominees, much less confirmed and on the job. Beyond that he has to have some 150 people in the White House alone to staff its various functions.

Most incompetent and volatile President in history.