Poor vetting

The defense to counter the indictments of Paul Manafort and Rick Gates as offered by the White House is, per Trump’s tweet,

“Sorry, but this is years ago, before Paul Manafort was part of the Trump campaign. But why aren’t Crooked Hillary & the Dems the focus?????”

The man who wants super vetting for refugees seems to be less than strict to vet people to whom he gives jobs.

In August Trump proclaimed,

“I’m going to surround myself only with the best and most serious people. We want top of the line professionals.”

In April he had told Fox and Friends,

“I brought in Paul Manafort, who’s a total professional, won tremendous numbers of races.

When things were getting hot for Manafort and he resigned, Trump had these words for him,

“This morning Paul Manafort offered, and I accepted, his resignation from the campaign. I am very appreciative for his great work in helping to get us where we are today, and in particular his work guiding us through the delegate and convention process. Paul is a true professional and I wish him the greatest success.”

Then the indictments came out, and it would seem that he had not necessarily surrounded himself with the best.

There is only one difference

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While I am not against doing something about the opioid crisis in the country, I just cannot ignore something that I have noticed about it and the reaction to it.

Remember back in the 1980s when hundreds of our fellow citizens began dying of AIDS and we as a country banded together to deal with that and help those who were contracting the virus?

Remember how quickly the government was to fund research to come up with a cure and ways to help those suffering?

I don’t because it didn’t happen.

I did see firsthand that Gay doctors were coming up with combinations of drugs, the “cocktail”, to reduce the affects of AIDS and the Gay Community was organizing hospices and medical support networks while the general attitude of the country was in favor of finding places where people with AIDS could go and die alone and unseen.

Remember how we as a country banded together to help our fellow Americans who found themselves becoming addicted to Crack?

I don’t.

But I do remember that as the Black Panthers demanded what the AIDS activists had to demand, proper attention and treatment, and were establishing their own support networks, they were being condemned as radical terrorist types.

Instead of compassion for those experiencing these crises, there were appeals for isolation in one case and more punishment and police force action in the other.

Both the crack and the opioid crisis have something in common; they involve drug addiction, violence, and desperation. What is different is the population being affected.

With AIDS it was Homosexuals; with crack it was primarily inner-city Blacks; while with opioids it is primarily suburban, white, middle class people. The three crises cross the lines of color, class, and location, but they each have majority numbers from the different groups.

Because the belief is that the opioid crisis affects US directly, it is getting the attention and the concern, while no one is being relegated to dying in quarantine or in shabby hospital rooms, and no one is calling for the arrest and locking up of those suffering.

The country was filled with disgust and fear of crack and AIDS, but not with concern for the people who suffered from either.

Because of the majority being affected by opioids, people and the government are calling for treatment, not jail or quarantine.

With both crack and opioids,  because that next fix is needed and there is money in supplying it, there is plenty of crime and addiction, but who is addicted and who is committing the crime this time is “US”.

I saw this in a place that relies on a strong summer tourist season where the population is very white in the off season with seasonal homes being burgled for their fencable contents. No one, however, was labeled and then ostracized because of that label. I did see a lot of sympathy for the good kids hitting the skids and support for their families who had to deal with it.

Perhaps if the next crisis hits a population that is not like the majority of the citizens of this country we will look back on the differences in how we treated different populations affected by crises, be a little embarrassed by our past biases, do the right thing, and include everyone in the “US”.

We are being told that we need to address the opioid crisis because people are dying. That is true. They were also dying before in earlier crises.

There is only one qualifyier that is making the difference this time.

the additional surgeon

People who oppose Sanctuary Cities and Safe Communities like to cite nonexistent statistics that claim that crime goes up where undocumented people are not rounded up or Brown people are not profiled, while actual statistics show that crime actually goes down.

When questioned on his claim that crime clearly goes up, the Bristol County Massachusetts sheriff has no problem admitting he has no statistics to back his claim, but, instead, insists his claim is a matter of common sense.

Of course the common sense of a county sheriff who shows up at a community festival while off duty and out of his jurisdiction and drinks wine while wearing his side arm might be a little questionable.

He prefers urban legend over statistical studies.

Supporters of Sanctuary Cities and Safe Communities rely on statistics to support their beliefs.

I am one of those people.

Although I do understand that if a person who is arrested after committing a major crime and during the necessary background check for priors and warrants is found to be in the country illegally deportation proceedings should begin, I do have a problem with raiding places where Brown people hang out in the hope one of the people in the crowd might be undocumented, pulling someone over for a burned out tail light and hoping you found “an illegal”, or retaining someone who has been in a county jail after their case has been adjudicated with their being found not guilty, or who has paid the fine or made bail being detained until ICE can come and check him out.

I also object to I.C.E. hanging out in places where people need to go when it comes to a life or death situation, hoping they can make a score there.

If people are afraid that reporting a crime to the police will result in their being held to see if they are undocumented, crime reporting will go down. If people are afraid a trip to the emergency room will result in their being investigated, people will die.

Take the case of recent events in Texas.

A 10-year-old girl with cerebral palsy, Rosa Maria Hernandez, has been in this country since 2007 when she was brought here illegally as a 3 month old. After she was operated on at a Texas hospital and was being transferred by ambulance from one hospital to another for emergency gallbladder surgery, Border Patrol agents intercepted her and an adult cousin, who is a U.S. citizen.

The ambulance had been stopped at a vehicle checkpoint, and the agents then followed the ambulance to the hospital. During her hospital stay she was under surveillance.

When she was discharged to a family member who is familiar with her medical and psychological needs, the agents, instead, transported her to a government-contracted juvenile shelter in San Antonio, 150 miles from her home, where deportation proceedings were begun.

According to Dan Hetlage, a spokesman for Customs and Border Protection, agents were just enforcing federal immigration law.

“The agent is wrong if he lets her go. We don’t have the discretion. It’s not a traffic ticket. We follow the letter of the law. It’s frustrating for us. I’m a human being. The agents are trying to do their job as humanely as possible,” he said.

Although officers are discouraged from conducting enforcement actions at or near sensitive locations unless the arrest is related to national security, terrorism, or public safety, this action was defended with the claim that the agents had actually apprehended Rosa Maria at the checkpoint which is not considered a sensitive location, not the hospital which is, although, I would think that an ambulance would be one.

Further, this 10 year old had been given the option of signing voluntary departure papers or spending up to 3 weeks in detention.

Remember this is a 10 year old child who was in the hospital recovering from an operation, and knows no country but this one.

She is not a threat to national security or public safety, nor is she a terrorist.

Meanwhile, Donald Trump has decided not to deport a Chinese fugitive, Guo Wengui, a billionaire real-estate developer, who fled China in 2014 to avoid arrest on charges of rape, bribery and kidnapping.

Originally Trump had told aides he knew of at least one “Chinese criminal” the US needed to deport immediately.

“We need to get this criminal out of the country.”

He changed his mind after being told Mr Guo is a member of his Mar-a-Lago resort.

The deportation was halted.

People like Rosa Maria deserve better or at least as good a chance.

 

 

 

An unexpected civics lesson

When I was a kid, I wasn’t into sports. It was a lot of work and, no matter how much fun I thought we should be having, there was always a lot of angry yelling. It seemed that no one was really enjoying any of the games being played.

I played when I really had no choice especially when football and baseball were played just down the street at the intersection that provided enough area for both sports, but if I could find a way to avoid a game, I took advantage of it.

On day after school I was hanging out with my friend from up the street, who was also adverse to sports-ball games, when he suddenly announced he had to go home because his mother was in charge of some meeting at his house. I walked to his house with him, and as he entered his back door, he hesitated a second or two, he seemed to be pondering something, and then told me to wait.

He went into his house and came back with his mother who invited me in since I might be interested in what was about to happen. There was a Cub Scout meeting in the kitchen, and my friend’s mother was the Den Mother.

That afternoon was my introduction to the Cub Scouts, and at supper I presented my parents with the literature my friend’s mother had given me about the Cub Scouts, and as my mothers’ two brothers had been members of the Sea Scouts in their childhood, she thought my getting involved with scouting would be a good activity. The next day I went to my friend’s house with all the necessary paperwork to join up.

Besides the usual arts and craft activities, there was a lot of character building, and as part of that a lot of information and activities about civics and civic involvement. It was the late 1950s early 1960s, so being a good, involved citizen was important.

So as a former Cub Scout, this surprised me.

At the beginning of October, a group of Cub Scouts met with Colorado State Senator Vicki Marble and asked her about gun control, the environment, race, and the proposed border wall between the United States and Mexico because these were topics being spoken about by news outlets, members of congress, and the president.

The members of the den had been encouraged to come up with questions to ask on their trip to the capitol.

One scout asked the senator, who does not support what might be seen as common sense gun laws,

“I was shocked that you co-sponsored a bill to allow domestic violence offenders to continue to own a gun. Why on earth would you want somebody who beats their wife to have access to a gun?”

The senator defended her decision by saying that shootings in places like Las Vegas, a recent event, happened in so-called gun-free zones. She asserted that “the more guns a society has, the less crime or murders are committed.”

Five days later the Cub Scout’s mother was asked to meet the leader of the Cub Scout pack, who oversees a number of dens in Broomfield, Colorado, who inform her that her son’s den leader was upset about the question he had asked, and that as a result, her son was no longer welcome back to the den.

Along with the gun control part of what was a two minute question, the den leader had been upset by the scout’s having pointed out that the senator was a Republican and that gun ownership was considered a right while health care was a privilege.

 

He had also referenced the senator’s statement in 2013 about the causes of health issues among black people.

“I was astonished that you blamed black people for poor health and poverty because of all the chicken and barbecue they eat.”

Although she denied she had made such a remark, Senator Marble had said at a recorded poverty-reduction meeting with other legislators in 2013,

“When you look at life expectancy, there are problems in the black race: sickle-cell anemia is something that comes up, diabetes is something that’s prevalent in the genetic makeup and you just can’t help it. Although I’ve got to say, I’ve never had better BBQ and better chicken and ate better in my life than when you go down south and you — I love it…”

In response to the reaction of those at the meeting and after it, the senator had issued a non-apology.

“My comments were not meant to be disparaging to any community. I am saddened they were taken in that regard. I take my responsibility seriously and I hope our work on this committee will offer real solutions to the health and financial challenges of our vulnerable populations.”

After a break, the scout will join a new pack in February.

Since the scout is being allowed to join another den in the area the Boy Scouts of America issued a statement saying,

“The Boy Scouts of America and the Denver Area Council are pleased that the family will continue their participation in Scouting. We are committed to working with families to find local units that best fit their needs.”

The local Boy Scouts group in Broomfield published this statement at the top of its website,

“Our Troop was NOT involved in the Mayfield incident. As part of the Boy Scouts of America and the World Scouting Organization, we are an inclusive group regardless of politics, religion, gender and race.”

Like in those cases where, instead of dealing with the bullies at a school, the victims are transferred to another campus, an inconvenience to the victim with no negative affect on the victimizer, and having to face a den whose members may have formed a negative opinion of the scout and may treat him accordingly, this is a case where the kid is being punished and inconvenienced because of an adult’s opposing political views.

 

It is quite the civics lesson, but not like any I received in the Cub Scouts.

 

 

 

 

Somewhat faulty greatness

When defending himself for making what a reasonable person would have seen as a rather insensitive condolence call to Myeshia Johnson whose husband, Army Sgt. La David Johnson, was recently killed in action in Niger, because he referred to LaDavid as “your guy” and not by his name Trump offered,

“I can only say this. I was really nice to her. I respect her, I respect her family, I certainly respect La David—who, by the way, I called La David right from the beginning, they put a chart in front, La David, it says La David Johnson. So I called right from the beginning, there’s no hesitation, one of the great memories of all time, no hesitation.”

He had just mentioned in answer to another question that he had attended an ivy league college and is “very intelligent”.

When he was the Republican presidential candidate, he related that he received a medical deferment During the Viet Nam War because he had bone spurs in his feet.

But, during a July 2015 campaign stop in Iowa, Trump admitted that he couldn’t recall which foot it was.

So he told reporters,

 “You’ll have to look it up.”

Not long after this, he and his campaign issued a statement saying he had bone spurs in both of his heels.

Certainly, with “one of the great memories of all time” he should have been able to remember which foot it had been, or perhaps that it had been both.

Something that played such an important role in keeping him away from the battlefield during a war as memorable as that one when there were protests and much talk about the draft, having to serve, knowing your draft status, and, eventually, your draft lottery number one of the great memories of all time would emember where the bone spurs were.

Taking their balls home.

Representative Bob Corker is everyone’s hero now that he has declared,

“We must never adjust to the present coarseness of our national dialogue — with the tone set at the top. We must never regard as ‘normal’ the regular and casual undermining of our democratic norms and ideals.”

But “never” includes past, present, and future, and that means considering how present action could affect the future and taking the steps to prevent what you may later condemn.

Corker endorsed Trump for president being totally aware of whom and what he was endorsing.

He praised Trump’s evolution as a politician.

Corker called an April of 2016 speech by Trump on foreign policy a “really good transition in the campaign” and “very thoughtful”, “challenging the foreign policy establishment that has been here for so long.”

That was when he was rumored to be under consideration for being the vice presidential running mate , but before he was being considered for Secretary of State.

He loved Trump when he saw opportunity from declaring that love.

But since he has decided not to run for reelection, and once he did not get the hoped for jobs, and will not get any later, he started calling the Trump administration out for a “downward spiral” and being unstable and incompetent while also declaring that , “Secretary Tillerson, Secretary Mattis, and Chief of Staff Kelly are those people that help separate our country from chaos.”

Yet, the record shows he voted for the Trump agenda nearly 88% of the time which makes him responsible for promoting the conditions he now condemns as he heads for the door.

Senator Jeff Flake gave a great speech condemning Trump and the environment he has created both in he Party and America in general. He pointed out that Trump’s temperament and character threaten untold damage to the country and the world.

And he called on his fellow Republicans to take the necessary steps to make this end.

“We must be unafraid to stand up and speak out,” he said.

But, not only did he and Corker vote earlier for health-care bills that would have left millions uninsured in order to facilitate a huge tax cut to the rich, but at the next vote after Flake’s speech, they both voted to kill the Consumer Protection ruling that allowed consumers to bring class-action suits against financial services companies, a giveaway to Wall Street.

In total, Flake has voted in favor of the Trump agenda 92% of the time.

I have worked people who not only supported bad policies, but, in order to get promotions, protected and defended them. However, when the promotion did not materialize, they turned on the one they had supported revealing their true reservations that they had so easily put aside when there as possible gain. What they ended up condemning were the very things they had supported.

Having finally grown a pair, these guy are taking their balls and going home.

 

 

There is no pilot draft

Last Friday President Trump amended Executive Order 13223 and lifted restrictions and caps on recall of servicemen and women from various military branches, and that gives the Air Force more leverage as it attempts to combat the growing pilot shortage in its ranks.

What he signed amends an emergency declaration signed by George W. Bush after the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks.

The Air Force now has the option to return through voluntary programs as many as 1,000 retired pilots to active-duty service, the Pentagon announced.

“The Air Force is grateful for additional authority as it works to address its pilot shortage. We can’t provide specific details about how we will implement this new authority until we receive guidance from the secretary of defense,” 

Air Force spokeswoman Erika Yepsen said in a statement.

She also pointed out,

“However, as the Air Force pursues a variety of initiatives to counter the shortage, it will take care to balance new accessions with voluntary programs for retired and senior pilots to ensure the service maintains a balance of experienced aviators throughout the coming years.”

Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson and Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein have said the service was 1,555 pilots, of which 1,211 are fighter pilots.

The existing program is the Voluntary Retired Return to Active Duty Program, or VRRAD, which encourages pilots who had held a job in the 11X career field to apply before Dec. 31, 2018.

Pilots under the age of 60 who retired within the last five years in the rank of captain, major or lieutenant colonel could help fill 25 positions for an active-duty tour of one year.

Although the Air Force expects fewer than 200 retired pilots will return to active duty and serve as instructor pilots, the Pentagon caused a little confusion when it originally said after the order was signed Friday that 1,000 pilots could be brought back for up to three years.

Brigadier General Mike Koscheski, the head of a task force dedicated to fixing the Air Force’s pilot shortfall, said there are no plans now to have those recalled pilots fly fighters, bombers, tankers or mobility aircraft, but to take positions as instructors.

The initial reaction that retired pilots ere going to be drafted back into the Air Force might have been attractive in comparing that form of draft being instituted by a five time draft dodger, but in actuality it just gives the Air Force a little wiggle room in its already existing program.

However, since many of the pilots they may want and need to return are now holding good paying jobs with airline companies, they may have to come up with good bonuses to attract them back.

sad

For those who believed that meme on Facebook, the Hanoi Hilton was not a hotel in the better part of Hanoi. It was the nickname of the North Vietnamese P.O.W. camp in which John McCain had been held for more than five years after his aircraft was shot down and where he was tortured and held in solitary confinement.

Donald Trump, who had gotten five deferments to get out of the draft during that same war, one of which was for bone spurs in a foot whose identity escapes the president, self servingly high jacked the focus of the NFL players’ protest from their objection to racial disparity to disrespecting the troops so that he can appeal to people’s patriotic competitive spirit, had stated during his race for nomination that John McCain was no hero because his plane had been shot down.

 “I like people that weren’t captured,” he said.

With Trump playing the troop card, McCain said on Sunday when talking about the Viet Nam War,

“One aspect of the conflict, by the way, that I will never ever countenance is that we drafted the lowest income level of America and the highest income level found a doctor that would say that they had a bone spur. That is wrong. That is wrong. If we’re going to ask every American to serve, every American should serve.”

“They were spurs,” Trump told the New York Times that were “enough of a problem.

 “You know, it was difficult from the long-term walking standpoint.”

But it apparently wasn’t difficult to run the short distances required when he continued to play tennis and baseball.

Trump, who seems to be looking for the opportunity to show himself how tough he is by rattling borrowed sabers, has four children old enough to serve, but you can bet he will prefer to and will send other people’s children into any one of the theaters of war he is trying to create.

Last week John McCain delivered a speech in which he called out those who use patriotism and the troops as pieces in their political games.

“We live in a land made of ideals, not ‘blood and soil’.  We are the custodians of those ideals at home and their champion abroad. We have done great good in the world. … We will not thrive in a world where our leadership and ideals are absent. We wouldn’t deserve to.”

Trump has claimed he knew more about terrorism than our generals.

He repeatedly attacked Gold Star parents of an American hero who died fighting in Iraq.

When a veteran gave him his Purple Heart medal, Trump told him, “I always wanted to get the Purple Heart. This was much easier.”.

He has tried to undermine the credibility of U.S. intelligence agencies, which include the Army, Marines, Navy, and Air Force.

And, there are those who see him as the leader who knows best how to see the United States into and through a new war.

 

in the past they died more readily and then at that point they are not posing a risk.

Thirty years ago when the AIDS pandemic was in its infancy, as far as we knew, even though it would be discovered to have already been in the general population, at the time it was comforting for many that they could believe it was only affecting Gay men and Haitians. The fact that on the continent of Africa the virus, which would be determined to be HIV, affected men and women of all sexual orientations, didn’t seem to influence the general thinking, especially when politicians joined with religious right leaders and utilized the “punishment from God for being Gay” approach to have an identifiable target to get votes and donations, and the general population could feel comfortable believing it was only “them” not us who got it.

“They” were easy to dismiss. “They” could be put aside to die, and then the rest of the population would not have to deal with Gay people. There was even talk in California of rebuilding and  the World War II Japanese-American internment camps to gather up all those who tested positive and send them there to live out the rest of their lives with no contact with friends or family. Those who demanded they be allowed to visit would not have been permitted to leave as, preferring rumor over science, many who supported the plan held to the belief that the virus could be spread by touch or through simply breathing the same air as someone with AIDS meaning anyone leaving could spread the virus throughout the general population.

I was living in Southern California at this time, and know first hand how frightening this prospect was for many people there at the time. If I had been Positive, that would have meant that the last time I would have seen my family would have been at the last Christmas I had visited them on the East Coast, and I would never be allowed to see them again, or they me.

Even as the rest of society recognized that AIDS was something that affected everyone regardless of sexual orientation, in an effort to hold on to some remnant of separation, the most insulting and dismissive terminology came into use when  heterosexual people diagnoses with HIV were referred to as “innocent victims” implying that as Gay men deserved and worked for it, straight people had it forced on them by “the Gays”

Eventually reasoning people realized that they needed to do something. So, after having been comfortable with the belief that as long as it was ”them”, why care,  those who should already have been doing it began to do the necessary research, and adopted for the general population the practices and treatments begun in the Gay Community when it had to take care of itself.

That was thirty years ago, and one would think that through education that attitude would have changed.

Actions begin with questions like, “should we?”; “Could we?”; “Is it legal to?”

When any, or all of these question are asked, it is because someone is considering the action, and will, in all likelihood, attempt to get others to agree with what they plan.

So it is rather frightening for those who have memories of thirty years ago, that Georgia state Representative Betty Price, the wife of Tom Price, who resigned as President Trump’s health secretary because of his frequent use of private planes the cost of which he passed on to the taxpayer until he was caught, asked the director of the Georgia Department of Public Health’s HIV epidemiology section if she

 “wouldn’t mind commenting on the surveillance of partners, tracking of contacts, that sort of thing.

What are we legally able to do? I don’t want to say the quarantine word — but I guess I just said it. Is there an ability, since I would guess that public dollars are expended heavily in prophylaxis and treatment of this condition, so we have a public interest in curtailing the spread? What would you advise? Are there any methods, legally, that we could do that would curtail the spread?”

After the response from Dr. Pascale Wortley about what steps Georgia has taken to identify people with HIV and get them proper care, Price continued,

“It seems to me it’s almost frightening the number of people who are living that are potentially carriers — well they are carriers — with the potential to spread, whereas in the past they died more readily and then at that point they are not posing a risk. So we’ve got a huge population posing a risk if they are not in treatment.”

She lamented that people with HIV/AIDS are not dying off like in the old days when the pandemic was virtually ignored in this county and thousands of  “those people” died unnecessarily as Nero fiddled!

“in the past they died more readily and then at that point they are not posing a risk.”

Let that sink in.