Amongst The Distractions

The news last week was dominated by the Trump administration’s handling of the refugee crisis on our southern border, Trump bragging about how great he is (his big example was what he considers to be his great achievement with Kim Jung-un) and Melania’s jacket. In short, Trump created the crisis, he got his behind handed to him in Singapore and I really don’t care what the First Lady wears because she is largely irrelevant. A lot happened while we were intentionally distracted and I’d like to briefly touch on some of that today. Let’s explore.

Mr. Pecker popped up in the news last week (I apologize but I just couldn’t help myself on that one). It seems his National Enquirer had a policy of running Trump related stories by Trump’s personal lawyer Michael Cohen before publishing. In fact it appears Cohen could nix publishing. There is a lot of smoke here and it will be interesting to see if Robert Mueller or the Southern District of Manhattan’s Justice Department crew can locate any flames.

In the House a Bob Goodlatte sponsored Tea Party hardline immigration bill failed 231-193. Voting on the so-called compromise bill (which is actually a compromise between the extreme right wing Republicans and the hard right wing Republicans – no Democrats allowed and no reasonable Republicans in sight) was put off so leadership could avoid defeat and embarrassment because they obviously didn’t have the votes for passage. Both bills had too many poison pills in them to garner any Democratic support. Again the Republicans proved that they are a dysfunctional coalition incapable of governing.

The White House announced a plan to reorganize the government. One part of it is to combine the Departments of Labor and Education. If you are saying they were created to perform different functions you are absolutely correct. My suggestion is that Trump call the new department the Department of Things We Really Don’t Care About Anyway.

Another part of this plan is to consolidate all the social safety net programs into a single program and area. Does the adage about shooting fish in a barrel come to your mind? In a related move the latest version of the farm bill (which includes the SNAP program a/k/a Food Stamps) includes work requirements for recipients. In other words those who don’t have a job are left to starve while those who have a low paying job receive assistance. This is no longer a program to help the needy; it is a program to subsidize the labor costs of big and profitable corporations like Walmart. I think it is accurate to call it corporate welfare. The Republicans’ concern is neither the poor nor the framers; it is the greed of their financiers.

The United States is in the process of leaving the UN’s Human Rights Council. Ambassador Nikki Haley singled out China, Cuba, Saudi Arabia and Venezuela as human rights abusers on the Council who need to be removed. Perhaps Ambassador Haley needs to look at changes proposed by her administration to the American social safety net program, the treatment of refugees at the border, the refusal to enact reasonable gun regulations and America’s mass incarceration problem before she casts stones. Call me cynical, but I believe the Trump administration wants out because they don’t believe in human rights for non-Caucasian and non-Christian males.

Trump has nominated Kathy Kraninger to be the next head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB). It is currently being run on an interim basis by OMB Director Mick Mulvaney. This is another Trump administration destroyer mission. Kraninger is a Mulvaney protégé and cares nothing about consumers or the “little people” for that matter. She was part of the chain that signed off on Trump’s zero tolerance policy on the southern border which gave us the separation of children from their parents and into what John Lewis calls Child Internment Camps.

The Huffington Post reported that court filings say children in those camps have been given psychotropic drugs by staff on the behalf of the Office of Refugee Resettlement. I need to see how this stands up in court but the idea that understaffed and overwhelmed employees would resort to drugging kids, while deplorable, doesn’t sound that far-fetched to me.

While many government employees and contractors are hardworking and well intentioned apparently that doesn’t extend to Trump’s Council of Capos (a/k/a Cabinet). Health and Human Services (HHS) is the department charged with the welfare of the refugee children separated from their parents. On Saturday June 16th as the crisis was reaching critical mass HHS Secretary Alex Azar took the day off to attend his class reunion at Dartmouth. I was never in a position of responsibility as big as Azar but I worked a lot of Saturday’s in my working days. Where I was trained we called that quality leadership and that concept responsibility.

I’ll close with Cadet Bone Spur’s latest brainstorm. He wants to create a new armed force to go along with the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps. His “working title” is the Space Force. Did Trump just get done watching the latest Star Wars movie or is this simply another of his irrational fantasies? At least it’s not a Royal Guard; he probably thinks he already has one and it is just called the Secret Service to placate the peasants.

Separating the signal from the noise has never been as important as it is in the age of Trump.

This article is the property of and its content may not be used without citing the source. It may not be reproduced without the permission of Larry Marciniak.