Tag: MAGA

Fixing The Problems You Create

I’ve thought of Trump’s EO on child separation like a fireman torching buildings and “saving” people from the inferno. But his actions are more like throwing the person a dodgy life preserver he knows was recalled a few years back and calling himself a hero as soon as the person touches the thing. Anyone bother dragging the dude to safety? Anyone care that the preserver takes on water and sinks ten seconds later? Nope – I threw the thing, so I saved the guy.

The Obama admin took the “family detention center” approach to the issue. Flores v Lynch 212 F.Supp.3d 907 (2015) found that this violated the 1997 Flores Agreement *and* ordered the release of (I’m too lazy to look up how many) both detained children and their parents. Flores v. Lynch, 828 F.3d 898 (2016) determined that the *parents* did not have an affirmative right of release under the agreement … and what do you do if you are legally barred from holding the kids but *could* hold the parents. You either separate families or release both parents and children.

So Trump signs an EO saying to take measures consistent with the law to avoid separating families. What’s that fix? Either they do what they are doing today (and cite Flores v. Lynch as REQUIRING they separate families because the kids are not actually being detained but rather waiting for accommodations whilst their parents are detained during their transit of the legal system) or they go the family detention center route & pretend like they’re trying to convince some judge how this is materially different than when Obama did it.

Crystal Balls

Because no one could foresee tragedy when dumping thousands of young kids in tents across a part of the country that gets more than a little warm. The forecast for Fort Bliss (oh, the irony!) on Saturday is 105 degrees Farenheit.

I’ll concede that’s cherry picked data – today’s high is 99, tomorrow it’s 100. Thurs 101, Fri 104, and Sun – Tue are 101. But I’m not sure “it wasn’t 105 F *every* day” is going to be a lot of comfort to kids suffering from heat stroke in some overcrowded tent.

But he MADE me do it

I wondered if this was the logic when he first started in about how it was the Democrat’s that were forcing the separation. Not that the Dem’s passed some laws forcing kids to be separated from parents but that the Dem’s refusal to just go along with asinine policies that don’t even do much to reduce illegal entries mean the trump administration “has” to do all of this terrible stuff. Good to see the master negotiator at work here. 

Curious, too, that *immigration* laws are going to deter ‘criminals’ whereas gun laws won’t. I’d almost give on immigration policies for the analogous gun control policy: a wall (longer waiting periods), merit based immigration (more background checks and reasons for denying ownership), ending lottery/chain (no gun or ownership is grandfathered)

 

Better than a dog kennel

Looks like reporters have been allowed in to the detention facilities for kids separated from their families for immigration violations —  and some Twitter commentary from one of the NBC correspondents
 
Like the Russian sanctions that were enacted exceptionally slowly (allowing targets ample time to transfer assets around to minimize impact), it’s been over a week since Senator Merkley attempted to visit. That’s a lot of time to make the place look nice. And beyond the crazy murals (pretty sure the one on Twitter says “sometimes, in losing a battle, you find a new way to win the war” which … just doesn’t seem like a sentiment you want to convey to *kids ripped from their families and dumped into prison-like detainment facilities*), reporters think ‘prison’ when they tour the place. A step up from “dog kennel”, I guess, but remember these are the photos *approved* for release by HHS!
 
This report makes the recent initiative to house the kids in tent camps (on military bases & possibly other federal properties) more frightening. The current centers are licensed and operated by people who at least theoretically have some experience dealing with kids. Those tent camps – one of the things that makes them a quick solution is Trump & co don’t want to require licensed operators. What reporters see is the cleaned up version of what licensed professionals managed to do with an influx of kids. What do you think some random grifter looking to make a few bucks off the feds will manage? The whole thing reminds me of the ‘assembly centers’ for Japanese internment back in the 1940’s (WW2).
 
And if you’re not familiar with Japanese interment — started with Executive Order 9066 and more or less ended with a Supreme Court ruling, Endo v. United States (1944) (a ruling terrifying in and of itself — like the recent bigot baker case where the Court skips over the Constitutionality of the actual law to focus on comments made during the adjudicating process, the Endo case did not address the propriety of the underlying action — that is, they didn’t say the government was wrong to exclude people of a specific ancestry from parts of the country {an act which Korematsu v. United States (1944) upheld} but rather that the country could not continue to detain individuals who had been conceded to be loyal to the US). Which is all a very long way of saying we’ve been down this path before. It was repugnant to take American citizens and throw them into temporary encampments to “help” them relocate after they were excluded from the area where their home happened to be. The implementation ensured suffering — food shortages, overcrowded conditions, isolation from family.
 
A few years ago, EO 9066 was displayed next to Reagan’s act which officially acknowledged just how shitty the EO was and officially apologized for the evacuation, relocation, and internment undertaken in the EO. The juxtaposition of the two documents was a powerful reminder, in post-9/11 America, that actions which seem justified by ensuring the nation’s security are egregious violations of human rights and civil liberties.

Those who do not know history …

Those who do not know history compound errors by using phrases with loaded meanings or abysmal histories. As the World Meteorological Organization’s Hurricane Committee retires names so no one has another Katrina approaching them, I assumed politicians would retire phrases which haunt their predecessors. Then there’s this guy:

With a narrowly defined ‘mission’, sure it’s true. But GW stood in front of someone else’s sign and “mission accomplished” still hasn’t escaped the new connotative meaning.

There’s *ALWAYS* A Worse

I thought James Comey was fired in about the worst way imaginable – giving a speech at a remote office, he sees a TV with a banner announcing her termination and thinks it’s a joke. Which … I know a lot of people with that sense of humor. I remember putting an etc\hosts record to direct someone’s company home page to an internal sandbox web server, cloning over the internal home page project, and editing it to announce the company’s merger with some big competitor and the immediate closing of the HQ office. Screen grabbing CNN, throwing on a new banner, then playing the video back isn’t a stretch.

Then Rex Tillerson, who set out to prove experience negotiating mineral rights contracts is the same as negotiating international political situations where everyone isn’t getting what they want, read his boss’s tweet and learned he was terminated. This is what you get when 48% of voters want a guy whose fame, really, was firing people (in new and dramatic ways) on TV.

Let the war begin

One thing I respected about the first President Bush was that he didn’t attempt to secure re-election by re-invading Iraq. The 1990-1991 invasion of Iraq led to significant jumps in Bush’s approval rating — 15% at the onset and 20% when we “won”. And a surge of nationalism (and the “don’t change horses mid race” thinking that certainly helped his son’s re-election bid) that accompanies military action may well have allowed him to win in 1992.

George W didn’t have terrible approval ratings at the onset of his presidency – his approval number was over 50% just before 9/11. But his approval rating hit near 90% in the immediate aftermath.

Which brings me to Trump. Someone who loves glowing praise. And who kicked off a new round of trade wars with tariffs on steel and aluminium which may allow some increased domestic production, but is more apt to make everything that uses steel or aluminium more expensive. Or maybe it make more sense to make parts in Canada and truck the bits South. Or maybe finished products crossing the ocean become cost competitive. And that doesn’t even address adverse response from trading partners.

If the guy was sufficiently delusional to believe it was possible for any president to receive a surfeit of adoration, and by his own admission he’s not into fomenting new wars (+he has some existing wars in which to drop huge bombs +the general population has had more than enough warring to last a few lifetimes) … is it possible this is a self-aggrandizing trade war?

Capitalism Is Not Democracy (the inverse is true too)

A descendant of Walt Disney — one whose family has a load of cash and stands to inherit a load of cash herself — has a video on the Facebook page of NowThis … it is generally similar to their other videos with rich people saying “this tax bill gives me a HUGE percentage gain, might give you a little bit until your provisions sunset, and generally is a bad idea and you’re about to be screwed over with ‘needed to reduce the deficit’ cuts to social safety nets, education, infrastructure, research funding, small business funding, farm assistance programs, etc”. She, however, says that individuals voting for their own interest over a common good isn’t democracy. It’s anarchy. That’s an interesting distinction. And it made me think of how people often conflate free market capitalism and democratic governance.

The “invisible hand” principal of free market capitalism — not the phrase as it was actually used by Adam Smith but the generalized colloquial usage — is that the whole is optimized by each individual seeking to assure their own self-interest. A bit like maximum k sums in set theory – the largest possible sum of k numbers from a set is the sum of the largest k numbers in the set. While a specific individual may suffer misfortune, this assertion of optimization is microscopically reasonable. The economy grows when most individuals increases their value simultaneously.

Can the same be true of democracy? Does advocating for one’s self-interest promote societal optimizations as well? Or does looking only at one’s self-interest delve into anarchy? I believe the answer depends on how narrowly one defines one’s own self-interest. Abigail Disney offers a ironic example of this in her video – fuck over enough of the middle class and there won’t be Disney customers anymore. Maybe they’re rich enough to not care financially, but family members’ social standing is diminished by losing the company. The family legacy is lost. How does the individual weigh “keeping the fortune in the family” against “sustaining the company my grandfather helped create”? One problem in American politics is an incredibly narrow view — don’t believe in climate change, whatever. But you do breathe air and drink water, right? Why would you want companies to dump mining sludge into rivers and spew petrochemicals into the air? (Answer: Because you are thinking so narrowly that you concern yourself only with the natural resources within a few miles of your house … neglecting to consider how these things move around the globe.).

Unfortunately, “self-interest” is defined narrowly (e.g. a single issue voter), ignores long term consequences (e.g. anti-environmentalism), and fails to consider the realistic complex multi-variable picture (e.g. the interconnectedness of all things means Disney lady saves a couple hundred thousand on her taxes, but their company goes through reorg bankruptcy as disposable incomes drop in a few years).

Missing George Carlin

Hoping for a remake of Carlin’s 1972 bit “Seven Words You Can Never Say on Television”, the Trump administration has banned seven new words at the CDC. “Diversity,” “entitlement,” “evidence-based,” “fetus,” “science-based,” “transgender,” and “vulnerable.”

Well, not for that reason … but the ban seems to be true. That action is troubling in and of itself – a dash of groupthink and a heap of naïveté: let’s ban unpleasant (to us) ideas and just hope they go away. More troubling is the reported replacement for [science|evidence]-based: “CDC bases its recommendations on science in consideration with community standards and wishes”. Umm … the CDC — the Centers for Disease Control — is going claim its recommendations are made in consideration with community standards and wishes?!? What the fuck?? I wish cancer didn’t exist. Huh, didn’t help.

The FCC doesn’t actually have a finite list of banned words, rather they are guided by the courts view on where First Amendment protection exists or doesn’t. Did the Supreme Court hand down a concrete list of banned words? Of course not. Going back to Jacobellis v Ohio (1964) – where Justice Potter Stewart wrote “I know it when I see it” of hard-core pornography – obscenity and indecency are not clearly defined. Which makes broadcasting questionable material a risk — will someone complain? How will the FCC find on the complaint?

Anyone can submit a complaint to the FCC — I find high pitched made up word baby talk on supposedly educational children’s programming grossly offensive, I can complain to the FCC. Their investigators will likely find that the offense doesn’t reach the level of public nuisance and is thus not profane. Even the test for obscene content includes determining if the depiction has “literary, artistic, political, or scientific value”. Include a good enough story line and your hard-core porn isn’t obscene?

Deciding what to broadcast and what to censor becomes risk analysis. In radio, the risk analysis often considers *local* standards. That’s why, when driving across the country listening to various same-genre radio, words and phrases will be broadcast in some markets and censored in others. I’ve heard references to drug use scratched with varying impact – Petty can’t roll another joint but the song is mostly there or D12’s Purple Pills becomes a series of instrumentals and scratches. Even ‘radio edits’ are sufficiently edited in some markets but still have redacted bits in others. Syndicated radio programming – and most broadcast television – needs to consider what the most prudish broadcast area will consider offensive. I may live in a city where local radio broadcasts drug references or ‘shit’, but the national content may omit these to avoid offense elsewhere.

OK – extrapolate that to MEDICAL ADVICE. Medical advice should now take into consideration the ‘medicine is evil, God will cure us’ set? The ‘contraception means a moral failing’ set? Making America great, huh.

Net Neutrality Is Dead

Well, we all knew it was going to happen. And it did. Some people are saying “but, but … it wasn’t a problem *before* the regulation went into effect, so nothing bad is going to happen now”. Maybe they’re right. Or that assertion could be the equivalent of saying internet pornography wasn’t a problem because you’re only looking at a time period ending with 9600 baud modems and uuencoded images split into a dozen posts on a message board.

Could be that the regulations were enacted when service providers *started* to use their ability to control access against customers (Madison River blocking VoIP, AT&T blocking Skype & VoIP, everyone and their brother blocking google wallet because *they* wanted to force payment through their processor). Could be that companies were experimenting with the controls and would have stopped because of revenue loss regardless of federal regulations. I guess we’ll find out in a few years.