The Facts About Separating Illegal Immigrants and Their Children

For the past few weeks President Trump has insisted that his administration is bound by law to separate children from their parents when those parents are arrested for crossing illegally into the U.S.

It’s not. He’s lying.

He says separating parents from their children is required by law.

It’s not. He’s lying.  It’s a choice he and his administration made. They don’t have to do it if they don’t want to do it.

But he says it’s the law.

It’s not. He’s lying.

He says it’s a law that was given to him by Democrats.

It’s not. He’s lying.

He says only Democrats can fix this.

He’s lying – first because there’s no such law, and second, if congressional intervention can fix this problem, Republicans don’t need any help from Democrats:  as the majority in both the House and Senate, they could change any current law without the support of a single Democrat.

Although 100 percent of Democrats in Congress would support such an effort.

So again, he’s lying.

The truth is that this policy is the brainchild of Attorney General Jeff Sessions and his evil sidekick, Stephen Miller.  They reason that the threat of separation will cause people accompanied by kids to think twice before illegally crossing the border out of fear of being separated from their kids.

Which the growing numbers of separated parents and children suggest isn’t working.

And Sessions’ claim that enforcing this law is mandated by the bible?

Sessions is sworn to protect the constitution, not the bible.

He’s a law enforcement official, not a minister.

And nowhere does the bible tell countries to forcibly separate parents from their children.

And house those children in cage and tents.

It hurts to be ashamed of your own country, doesn’t it?

 

In the World of Low-Rent Cable Fare

While innocently pedaling the stationary bike recently The Curmudgeon caught an ad on television for a TBS program called “Drop the Mic” – “mic” being short for “microphone” even though there’s nothing about “mic” that suggests “microphone.”

The premise of the show is that two celebrities engage in a battle of nasty wit in which they rap insults at one another.

In other words, educational television it is not.

Most episodes feature C, D, and E list “celebrities,” although among past participants have been Halle Berry and Shania Twain.  More common are “say what?” combatants such as James Van Der Beek, Niecy Nash, Mayim Bialik, Nick Lachey, Padma Lakshmi, Shaquille O’Neal, and the ultimate proof that the program is about schlock and mediocrity: Wayne Brady.

Two quick observations.

First, amateurs should not rap.

Second, white people, both amateurs and all but a few exceptions, should never, ever, ever rap.

And that brings The Curmudgeon back to the advertisement he saw while pedaling his stationary bike and wondering whether that was really how he was supposed to be spending his brief time on this earth.

The “battle” advertised at this time pitted Molly Ringwald versus Jon Cryer.

And in that moment, two things occurred to him.

First, setting aside the casting gimmick – Ringwald and Cryer appeared together in a mildly amusing movie – get ready to feel old, friends – 32 years ago, who in the world thought it would be a good idea to have Ringwald and Cryer rap insults at one another on television.

And second, who in the world would willingly, consciously tune into a program that featured Molly Ringwald and Jon Cryer rapping insults at one another?

Time to BUILD A WALL!

To protect us from those evil…Canadians!

A Great Headline

From the Washington Post, introducing a column by Dana Milbank about the kerfuffle between Agent Orange and Canada Prime Minister Justin Trudeau:

Finally, a president with the guts to stand up to Canada

Is that a great headline or what?

The Cluelessness of Betsy DeVos

Betsy DeVos is the U.S. Secretary of Education.  Ms. DeVos brings little in the way of useful qualifications to her work:  no experience as a teacher or school administrator, no academic background in education, no kids who attended public schools, no experience running a very large organization.  What she does bring to her job are two qualities that some people think are more important than any other:  she has huge piles of money that she uses to make generous contributions to conservative candidates and conservative causes and she is an avowed enemy of public education and a strong proponent of charter schools.  It seems safe to suggest that if it were up to Betsy DeVos there would be no public schools in the U.S.

In the wake of the Parkland, Florida school mass murder in February, President Trump appointed DeVos to lead a new federal commission on school safety.  The Department of Education’s web site recently posted an explanation of the commission’s early efforts.

U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos today announced new details on the Federal Commission on School Safety the President appointed her to chair. The Commission has been charged with quickly providing meaningful and actionable recommendations to keep students safe at school. 

The same statement, posted on the Department of Education web site, states that

“Over the last several weeks, I have held meetings with parents and non-profit organizations, who in the wake of tragedy, have leapt into action and have focused on finding solutions to school violence,” said Secretary DeVos. “The Commission’s task will be to hear their ideas and the ideas of anyone who is focused on finding solutions to bolster school safety across the country. We want to highlight what’s working so that every school has access to solutions that will keep students and teachers safe.”

One of the commission’s members is Attorney General Jeff Sessions, and the same Department of Education statement explains that

Attorney General Sessions had this to say about the Federal Commission on School Safety’s work, “No child should have to be afraid to go to school. That’s why President Trump has taken action to strengthen law enforcement and to protect law-abiding people from the threat of gun violence. Since last month’s tragic shooting in Parkland, the Department of Justice has taken new steps to put more law enforcement officers in schools, ban bump stocks, get better information to our background check systems, and aggressively prosecute those who lie on a background check. I am confident that, by bringing together teachers, parents, and law enforcement officers, the School Safety Commission will inform the next steps we will take to give students safety and peace of mind.”

Another commission member is Secretary of Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar, and the statement notes that

Secretary Azar added, “It is a core responsibility of government to keep our communities, and especially our schools, safe from all forms of violence. We at HHS look forward to contributing to the work of the Commission, especially when it comes to identifying young Americans struggling with serious emotional disturbance or serious mental illness and helping them find treatment that enables them to lead healthy, fulfilling lives.”

Yet another commission member is Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielson, and of her the statement notes that

Secretary Nielsen said, “No child should have to worry about their safety when in school. The Department’s top priority is to keep the American people safe. I look forward to working with other Commission members to advance school security, including by promoting education and community awareness of school threats, capacity building and training to guard against them, and early warning mechanisms to help intervene before threats become tragedies.”

So it seems reasonably self-evident that one of the issues this commission will look at is gun violence in schools, right?

Apparently, wrong.  As CBS News reported last week after DeVos’s testimony before a Senate subcommittee,

The federal school safety commission set up after the deadly shooting at a Florida high school will not examine the role of guns in school violence, Education Secretary Betsy said Tuesday. “That is not part of the commission’s charge per se,” DeVos told a Senate subcommittee overseeing education spending. 

Also,

During a hearing on education spending, DeVos was asked whether the commission that she is chairing will look at guns in the context of school safety. 

 “We are actually studying school safety and how we can ensure our students are safe at school.” 

And

Sen. Patrick Leahy, a Vermont Democrat, who asked the question, quipped, “So you are studying gun violence, but not considering the role of guns.”  

DeVos’ spokeswoman Liz Hill later clarified in a statement that the commission will look at all the issues the president asked it to study. She added, however, “It’s important to note that the commission cannot create or amend current gun laws — that is the Congress’ job.” 

Unbelievable.  These people – and especially Ms. DeVos – are utterly clueless.

And apparently, unconcerned about the prospect of another Parkland.

Surely He Didn’t Say That

Oh, but surely he did.

After the unfortunate manner in which last weekend’s G-7 meeting in Quebec ended, Trump administration trade advisor Peter Navarro declared that

There’s a special place in hell for any foreign leader that engages in bad faith diplomacy with President Donald J. Trump and then tries to stab him in the back on the way out the door.

Peter Navarro, who probably should find another line of work

What happened, you may have heard, is that Agent Orange attempted to bully Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Trudeau was having none of it and dared explain the nature of the disagreement to reporters. In the narrow, narrow mind of Peter Navarro, however, anyone who dares disagree with Trump is accused of acting in bad faith.

Because in TrumpWorld, the only apparent explanation for disagreeing with the president is bad faith because, after all, how can you possibly disagree with HIM?

There’s no room for people like Navarro in public life. This guy needs to find the rock he crawled out from under and crawl back under it again.  Not only has he publicly declared that he’s a fool but he’s also identified himself as someone with whom foreign leaders should never interact under any circumstances because if everything doesn’t go exactly Navarro’s way, they’re going to open their morning papers and learn that some American nitwit has thrown a hissy fit  over the audacity of someone disagreeing with him.

The Curmudgeon suspects that Justin Trudeau is safe but he’s certain that Peter Navarro’s reservation for his own special place in hell was just confirmed.

Just Plain Mean

As part of its latest attempt to dismember Obamacare – even though Republicans in Congress seem not to care anymore – the Trump administration is taking aim and one of the most popular provisions in the health care reform law:  the requirement that insurers must insure people who have medical problems and can charge no more to people with pre-existing conditions than they do their other clients.

People LOVE that requirement.  Republicans mostly LOVE that requirement.  Even a lot of conservatives LOVE that requirement.  Until 2010, insurers could charge exorbitant premiums to anyone who had a medical condition that might cost them some money down the road – that is, if they didn’t just refuse to insure them at all. Cancer survivors, people with heart conditions, diabetics, people with hypertension or sickle cell disease, and those with many other problems were constantly at risk of being priced out of the health insurance market.

Now before you go ahead and say “Yeah, well, those people DO cost a lot more to care for,” don’t forget the concept underlying health insurance: gather together large pools of people, collect premiums from them, and help them work together to take care of one another.  The Curmudgeon recalls that when he was undergoing radiation treatment and constant blood tests and CAT scans and exams nearly 11 years ago, he said to a co-worker “For the first time, I understand it from the insurer’s point of view.  I’m costing them a lot of money.”  To which she replied:  “You’re 50 years old.  Were you ever sick before this?”  The answer:  No.  “So that means that you’ve been insured for 50 years and you barely used any of that premium money.  All that time, your insurers were using your premiums to help others.  Now, it’s using others’ premiums to help you.  That’s how insurance works.”

Official cartoon character of the Republican Party

She was right, of course, but now, the Trump administration, with all the kindness and empathy of, oh, Snidely Whiplash, wants to block enforcement of a rule that is an absolute lifeline not only to people who’ve had the misfortune of having a medical problem in their lives – which, ultimately, is all of us if we live long enough – but also to their families as well, because entire families lose when one member has a medical problem that results in the family being rejected for health insurance or being charged so much that insurance becomes unaffordable.

It’s just plain cruel, but then, these are just plain cruel people calling the shots in the Trump administration these days.

76ers Follies, Including the Most Ridiculous Job Description You May Ever See

For three years the 76ers took a dive, intentionally fielding inept teams in an effort to lose as many games as possible

The Curmudgeon has made his feelings known about the Philadelphia 76ers basketball team in this space on more than one occasion and will spare you all but the highlights:  a lifelong fan of the team, he now roots for it to lose every game by a score of 100-0 in front of no paying spectators because for three years the organization intentionally fielded the worst team it possibly could.  If you’d like to know more about it, you can check it out here and here.

Last week saw something new and, as far as The Curmudgeon can tell, unprecedented: the 76ers fired Bryan Colangelo, the team’s president and general manager (the latter being the position that makes all of the personnel decisions), because, according to the official investigators’ report, his wife employed five – five! – anonymous Twitter accounts to post negative things about the team and its players. The story they’re telling, and apparently planning to stick to, is that Mrs. Colangelo heard this stuff over dinner or as pillow talk and took to Twitter entirely on her own to stand by her man.  Surely no one believes this:  the common assumption appears to be that Mr. Colangelo did all this himself, or directed his wife to do it.  Some damning evidence: when team-employed investigators requested her phone to determine whether it was the source of the tweets in question they discovered that it undergone a factory reset and its memory had been wiped completely clean.

Because nothing says “I didn’t do it” like deleting everything from your phone.

Tweeted himself out of a job

So the 76ers fired Mr. Colangelo, who was hired when the team decided it was time to start actually trying to win basketball games.  The Curmudgeon refuses to watch the team – he’ll become a fan again the day the despicable people who currently own the team sell it – but from afar he gets the sense that Mr. Colangelo had done a reasonably good job. The thinking now, however, is that even pretending that his wife was the miscreant, not him, no one in the basketball world is going to be able to trust him or be willing to do business with him – not players, not players’ agents, and not executives of other teams – so he would no longer be able to do the job for which he was hired.

So last Friday the 76ers said “Buh-bye, Bryan.”

The Curmudgeon has one other piece of 76ers business to bring to you, but it comes not from his anger over their disgraceful actions but out of laughter at something he ran across recently in a most unexpected place:  LinkedIn.

The Curmudgeon  isn’t much of a fan of the LinkedIn web site.  He’s there because, as is the case with Facebook, he just thinks he probably needs to be there, but that’s it.  With Facebook at least there’s some entertainment value as you get to follow the exploits of people you haven’t seen in a hundred years or those who revolve around the periphery of your life and about whom, in many cases, you don’t give a damn.  LinkedIn doesn’t even offer that:  you get more entertainment value at a funeral.

The Curmudgeon visits his Linked In page maybe twice a month, and on a recent visit he found the following job posting as something that some idiot there thought might be right up his alley:

Director, Fan Strategy
Philadelphia 76ers

Job description

Position Summary: As a fan strategist, communications planning is your strength. You combine behavioral and psychographic insights, in-depth channels expertise, and platform innovation to both inspire marketing campaigns and develop custom media strategies. Data is the driver and delivering engagement is the goal. You are responsible for promoting data-enhanced decision making throughout the organization by delivering inspiring creative briefs.

 In this position, you are in the know of the latest media trends and are continuously hungry to stay ahead of the ad-tech and new media space. You have strong knowledge of both digital and traditional media planning, which is all used to aid the development of strategic plans for teams and proactively brings innovative ideas to the table that help drive our businesses.

 Collaboration is key, and it’s used to develop best-in-class campaign management, working cohesively with internal teams, partners and vendors. Analyze and optimize campaigns in real-time and work in partnership with other internal stake holders to deliver findings/reports.

 This position generally requires that work be performed from the Philadelphia 76ers corporate offices in Camden, NJ.

 Responsibilities include, but are not limited to the following:

Act as the organization’s thought leader for fan marketing communications.

Lead and develop the annual fan marketing communications plan for teams, and fine tune the communications planning process.

Conduct market research on media consumption patterns for different markets and audiences around the world.

  • Take high-level communications objectives and identify how a team should behave in different cultural spaces and platforms.
  • Concept and develop culturally-relevant connection ideas that live in media environments.
  • Mine client and consumer data in collaboration with analytics team members to uncover insights and inform decision-making.
  • Work with senior team members to develop research methodology using various tools and platforms.
  • Hold creative briefings and work-sessions to develop new ecosystem-driven and innovative ideas.
  • Prepare and deliver presentations to teams with your media findings and recommendations.
  • Educate internal stakeholders on media innovation trends and potential.
  • Performs other duties as assigned.

 Qualifications (educational, experience and basic knowledge requirements):

  • Bachelor’s Degree, top-tier college/university.
  • 5-7 years’ experience at a major, top-tier agency, sports team, lifestyle brand, or in data strategy function at a large consumer-facing brand.
  • Passion for sports & entertainment.
  • Must be a self-starter, detail-oriented and work well under pressure.
  • Effective written and verbal communications skills.
  • Ability to write and deliver persuasive presentations is critical.
  • Strong quantitative and analytical skills.
  • Ability to interpret ongoing research reports, guide and partner with analysts on segmentation and market sizing studies, utilizing their findings to inform communications recommendations.
  • Incredible work ethic and eager to dig into the details.
  • Understanding of Omniture, Sysomos, Affinio, Salesforce, and similar analytics tools.
  • Strong intellectual curiosity.
  • Passion for sports and growing fan engagement.

Travel Requirements

  • May be required to travel on rare occasions (<5% travel); trips may require air travel and/or overnight stay for one or more nights. Additional trips working at the NJ Devils/Prudential Center offices in Newark, NJ.

 Physical Demands

  • This position requires the ability to lift up to 10 pounds.

 Certifications

  • None Required
    Please submit cover letter with resume upon applying.

Is this nothing short of complete confirmation that the people who run the Philadelphia 76ers are out of their ever-lovin’ minds?

Start at the beginning:  the job title.  “Director, Fan Strategy.”

Seriously? “Director, Fan Strategy”?

Next you have the following excerpt from the job description:

 You combine behavioral and psychographic insights, in-depth channels expertise, and platform innovation to both inspire marketing campaigns and develop custom media strategies. Data is the driver and delivering engagement is the goal. You are responsible for promoting data-enhanced decision making throughout the organization by delivering inspiring creative briefs.

Some pretty creative briefs

Does that even MEAN anything?

And those “creative briefs” – are they BVDs or Fruit of the Looms?

And what kind of hubris went into this job responsibility?

Conduct market research on media consumption patterns for different markets and audiences around the world.

Media consumption patterns…around the world?  The Curmudgeon wants some of whatever THESE folks are smoking.

And then there’s this one:

Take high-level communications objectives and identify how a team should behave in different cultural spaces and platforms.

Say whaaaaaat?

And this:

Concept and develop culturally-relevant connection ideas that live in media environments.

 Wait:  “concept” is now a verb?  The Curmudgeon never got the memo!

Media ENVIRONMENTS?

If he didn’t have so much to say about this drivel The Curmudgeon would say this utterly ridiculous job description leaves him utterly speechless.

But it confirms his belief that there is something seriously defective about the soul-less people who own this basketball team.

For now, The Curmudgeon will continue to root for the 76ers to lose all 82 of their games every year and for their paid attendance for their 41 home games to be zero and wait for the people who own this team, who care not a whit about sports or competition or their fans, to tire of playing with their billion-dollar toy and finally sell the team.

Whereupon The Curmudgeon can again become a 76ers fan.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hypocrisy

In 2011, the Obama administration announced that it would not defend the federal government in lawsuits seeking to challenge the Defense of Marriage Act (often referred to as DOMA).  Republicans, needless to say, were not happy.  Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich complained that “The president is replacing the rule of law with the rule of Obama.  The president swore an oath on the Bible to ensure that the laws be faithfully executed, not to decide which laws are and which are not constitutional.”  U.S. Rep. Lamar Smith, then chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, described the Obama administration decision as the”politicization of the Justice Department – when the personal views of the president override the government’s duty to defend the law of the land.”  Jeff Sessions, then a U.S. senator and now Attorney General, said that “[T]he Attorney General should have told the President, ‘I know you may have changed your mind, Mr. President, but this is a statutory law passed by the Congress of the United States, it’s been upheld Constitutionally and it has to be defended.”

And there were others – like Senator Orrin Hatch, who explained that “I know that if President Obama had his druthers, DOMA would not exist.  But the Justice Department’s duty is, thankfully, not defined by the President’s druthers.  Its duty is to make reasonable arguments in defense of a statute.”

Mitt Romney said that “[President Obama] has an obligation as chief executive to enforce and defend the laws of the nation. He should not abdicate that responsibility based on his own interpretations and personal views.”

So clearly, Republican felt pretty strongly about this:  if it’s a law, the Attorney General must defend it –  regardless of what the Attorney General thinks about the law.

Shortly after taking office last year, President Trump fired Sally Yates, who at the time was acting U.S. Attorney General, when she ordered the Justice Department not to defend Trump’s new travel ban (that was eventually overturned by the courts).  Former Attorney General (from the administration of George H.W. Bush) William Barr said that “while an official is always free to resign if she does not agree with, or has doubts about, the legality of a presidential order, Yates had no authority and no conceivable justification for directing the department’s lawyers not to advocate the president’s position in court. Her action was unprecedented and must go down as a serious abuse of office.” Stephen Miller, one of the Trump administration’s top henchman, declared that “It’s sad that our politics have become so politicized, that you have people refusing to enforce our laws.”  Trump himself accused Yates of “of having “betrayed the Department of Justice by refusing to enforce a legal order designed to protect the citizens of the United States.”

So we seem to have a pattern here:  Republicans believe that if it’s the law, whether passed by Congress or stated as part of a presidential executive order, the Attorney General’s job isn’t to question whether it’s a good or bad idea:  it’s to enforce the law.

Or do they?

Well, you have to wonder, considering that the Trump administration announced last week that it will not defend the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals law, often referred to as DACA or “the dreamers law,” which was passed by Congress and signed by a president?  CNN explained that “The DOJ [Department of Justice) argued in a legal filing late Friday that the DACA policy is unlawful and is “an open-ended circumvention of immigration laws.”  The Washington Timesreported that “The Trump administration told a federal judge late Friday that it won’t defend the legality of the Obama-era DACA amnesty…”

And then, just to prove this wasn’t a one-time lapse into making unilateral decisions about what is or isn’t legal, the Trump administration announced that the Justice Department would not defend the federal government in lawsuits involving selected provisions of the Affordable Care Act (widely referred to as Obamacare).  The Washington Post reported that

The Trump administration said Thursday night that it will not defend the Affordable Care Act against the latest legal challenge to its constitutionality – a dramatic break from the executive branch’s tradition of arguing to uphold existing statutes and a land mine for health insurance changes the ACA brought about.

 In a brief filed in a Texas federal court and an accompanying letter to the House and Senate leaders of both parties, the Justice Department agrees in large part with the 20 Republican-led states that brought the suit. They contend that the ACA provision requiring most Americans to carry health insurance soon will no longer be constitutional and that, as a result, consumer insurance protections under the law will not be valid, either.

 So what’s it going to be, Republicans?  When you weren’t in power, you were outraged when the Democrats in power chose to exercise judgment over which laws the administration would and wouldn’t defend.  Now that you’re in power, though, your attitude seems to be “The hell with the law, it’s our judgment that matters, not what the law says.”

The hypocrisy is overwhelming and, in this case, is accompanied by yet another sign that this president thinks he’s free to act like a dictator.

Some Things Never Change

More than six years ago – six years! – The Curmudgeon took to these pages to kvetch at his readers about the ridiculous cash register receipts produced by the major drug store chains.  He put tape measures to a few receipts and found that the longest, from CVS, measured in at nearly two feet long.

He’d like to report that things have improved since then – but then, he’d also like to wake up and learn that this whole Donald-Trump-as-president thing was just a bad dream.

But things haven’t changed, The Donald is still president, and it looks as if CVS took the revelation of a two-foot long receipt to prove it could do better.

“Better” as in even longer.  While The Curmudgeon failed to measure this receipt – yes, he knows, he’s ashamed – it’s pretty clear that since, as the photo to the right illustrates, it comes up to the middle of his chest and he’s 5’9”, this latest receipt is at least three feet tall and probably closer to four.

Those folks at CVS are real achievers, they are – and still real enemies of the environment.