Trump’s America

In this story by Propublica and the Philadelphia Inquirer you can see how Trump’s anti-immigration policies work. Here’s one great example:

Peralta is short and stout, with a shy, ready smile for whomever crosses his path.

That morning, it was two federal agents named Joe Vankos and Chad Noel. They were on a mission to capture a 29-year-old convicted cocaine dealer from Mexico.

Instead, they stumbled across and arrested Peralta. Though regional ICE agents had picked up bystanders in the past, they were not supposed to. But in a new era where every undocumented immigrant is a potential target, Peralta was one of the first “collaterals” to be taken into custody.  And one of the most defenseless.

It should have been immediately apparent that Peralta, who has difficulty speaking, had serious cognitive disabilities. A neuropsychologist who later examined him wrote in an assessment for the court that Peralta cannot read, write, or identify colors and that he is not competent to give informed consent “or to understand any but the simplest instructions, requests or commands.”

Yet ICE maintained in its arrest report that Peralta not only willfully engaged with Vankos but confessed his undocumented status, stated he was 46, and claimed he had a child in Florida.

Peralta, however, is childless and does not know his age, his pro bono lawyer, Craig Shagin, said. He was abandoned as a youth in rural Pennsylvania and has for decades made ends meet as an apple picker, pumpkin harvester, and construction worker in the Gettysburg area.

And the article notes:

  • Took advantage of state and local officials’ willingness to conduct their own informal immigration investigations, call ICE and detain immigrants for hours until federal agents arrived — despite the questionable legality of these practices.
  • Occasionally stepped over the legal line themselves, according to interviews, sworn affidavits, and court filings, by trespassing, conducting warrantless searches, engaging in racial profiling, fabricating evidence, and even soliciting a bribe.

I’m assuming that all those people who respond to these stories with retorts like ‘what part of illegal don’t you understand’ think these officials should all be in jail. Because otherwise they would just be Xenophobes, which is certainly not true. Right?

Trump is anti-immigrant

The Republican party has long argued that it isn’t against immigrants just illegal immigrants. No one told President Trump (bold added):

Current rules penalize immigrants who receive cash welfare payments, considering them a ‘‘public charge.’’ But the proposed changes from the Department of Homeland Security would widen the government’s definition of benefits to include the widely used Earned Income Tax Credit as well as health insurance subsidies and other ‘‘non-cash public benefits.’’

Immigrants and their families facing a short-term crisis could potentially have to forgo help to avoid jeopardizing their US residency status. The proposal would also require more immigrants to post cash bonds if they have a higher probability of needing or accepting public benefits. The minimum bond amount would be $10,000, according to the DHS proposal, but the amount could be set higher if an applicant is deemed at greater risk of neediness.

DHS officials say the proposal is not finalized. But the overhaul is part of the Trump administration’s broader effort to curb legal immigration to the United States, and groups favoring a more restrictive approach have long insisted that immigrants are a drag on federal budgets and a siphon on American prosperity.

The March for our Lives

Hundreds of thousands of students and others marched and rallied today for sensible gun control. I went to the one in Boston, where there were at least 50 thousand:

Thousands marched in many cities around the country and the world. The estimates are as high as 800,000 in DC, 150,000 in NY, 30000 in Atlanta, 20000 in Parkland Florida, 15000 in Houston, 6000 in Kansas City, and on and on.

President Trump was, of course, not in DC but golfing. Maybe that’s because the estimated crowd size was bigger than at his inauguration.

Trump displayed his usual cowardice:

Trump, for one, was nowhere within earshot of the march and student speeches, having spent Saturday at his golf club in West Palm Beach, Fla.

Scores of people had lined his motorcade’s usual path, which has been well-traveled by the president as he shuttles between his Mar-a-Lago estate and the Trump International Golf Club during weekend visits. They held signs excoriating the NRA and supporting an assault weapons ban.

But returning to Mar-a-Lago from the golf club on Saturday afternoon, Trump’s motorcade took a longer route than usual, crossing a different bridge into Palm Beach and then driving down Ocean Boulevard. There were striking views of the blue water and palatial estates, but no protesters could be spotted.

You can show your support for gun control by going to the March for Our Lives website.

Trump’s other Katrina

Not long ago, I posted about how badly things are going in Puerto Rico. It seems the Trump administration didn’t do much better in Houston in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey:

Nearly half a billion gallons of industrial wastewater mixed with storm water surged out of just one chemical plant in Baytown, east of Houston on the upper shores of Galveston Bay.

Benzene, vinyl chloride, butadiene and other known human carcinogens were among the dozens of tons of industrial toxins released into surrounding neighborhoods and waterways following Harvey’s torrential rains.

In all, reporters catalogued more than 100 Harvey-related toxic releases — on land, in water and in the air. Most were never publicized, and in the case of two of the biggest ones, the extent or potential toxicity of the releases was initially understated.

and in some ways, the response was worse than after Katrina:

The amount of post-Harvey government testing contrasts sharply with what happened after two other major Gulf Coast hurricanes. After Hurricane Ike hit Texas in 2008, state regulators collected 85 sediment samples to measure the contamination; more than a dozen violations were identified and cleanups were carried out, according to a state review.

In Louisiana after Hurricane Katrina’s floodwaters ravaged New Orleans in 2005, the EPA and Louisiana officials examined about 1,800 soil samples over 10 months, EPA records showed.

“Now the response is completely different,” said Scott Frickel, an environmental sociologist formerly at Tulane University in New Orleans.

Frickel, now at Brown University, called the Harvey response “unconscionable” given Houston’s exponentially larger industrial footprint.

The state of Texas didn’t want to be trumped (sorry) by the federal government lack of action, so:

As Harvey bore down on Texas, Gov. Greg Abbott’s administration decreed that storm-related pollution would be forgiven as “acts of God.” Days later, he suspended many environmental regulations.

What, you think the state of Texas cares about its citizens?

This is the way Trump adds jobs

President Trump is big, like most Republicans, on cutting regulations because, they say,  regulations cost jobs. The OMB, which is now run by the Trump administration, is mandated to put out a report on the costs and benefits of regulation:

OMB gathered data and analysis on “major” federal regulations (those with $100 million or more in economic impact) between 2006 and 2016, a period that includes all of Obama’s administration, stopping just short of Trump’s. The final tally, reported in 2001 dollars:

  • Aggregate benefits: $219 to $695 billion
  • Aggregate costs: $59 to $88 billion

By even the most conservative estimate, the benefits of Obama’s regulations wildly outweighed the costs.

According to OMB — and to the federal agencies upon whose data OMB mostly relied — the core of the Trumpian case against Obama regulations, arguably the organizing principle of Trump’s administration, is false.

Oops. A couple examples:

For example, new fuel economy standards for medium- and heavy-duty engines had (in 2001 dollars) between $6.7 billion and $9.7 billion in benefits. But they cost industry $0.8 billion to $1.1 billion.

The MATS rule, aimed at reducing toxic emissions from power plants, had between $33 billion and $90 billion in benefits (in 2007 dollars, for some reason), but it cost industry $9.6 billion.

So the benefits easily outweigh the costs. But jobs:

The conclusion — which is in keeping with the broader literature, as I described in this post — is that there may be local and temporary employment effects from environmental regulations, either positive or negative, but at the aggregate national level, such regulations simply aren’t a significant factor in employment. Their effects are lost amid the noise of demographic shifts and macroeconomic drivers.

Oh, well that’s what the tariffs are for, to save jobs:

TTP estimates that the tariffs will, on net, cost about 146,000 jobs, two-thirds of which are production and low-skill jobs. This estimate doesn’t take into account any possible retaliation from our trading partners.

So, Trump’s moves to help the economy, cutting regulations and putting in tariffs, will have more costs than benefits and will cost the country jobs overall. That’s a win by Trump standards.

Trump’s Katrina

President Trump did a great job with Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico:

Two months after Hurricane Maria ripped through Puerto Rico, scores of people were still dying in its aftermath, new government data suggest.

The total number of deaths above average in September, October and November was 1,230, according to Alexis Santos, a demographer at Pennsylvania State University who obtained the data from the Puerto Rico Institute of Statistics and conducted an analysis that he released to the Los Angeles Times this week.

Trump, of course, thinks he did a great job:

When President Trump visited Puerto Rico two weeks after the storm, he used the official death toll of 16 as evidence that his administration had been highly effective in dealing with the tragedy.

And it’s still an ongoing disaster:

Overall, more than 15 percent of power customers remain in the dark nearly six months after Hurricane Maria, which destroyed two-thirds of the island’s power distribution system. Officials have said they expect power to be fully restored by May.

Good job Trump.

Trump weighs in on MeToo, sides with harassers

A couple of men working for the Trump administration have resigned after their ex-wives claimed they abused them, I wonder what President Trump thinks?

‘‘Is there no such thing any longer as due process?’’

‘‘Peoples lives are being shattered and destroyed by a mere allegation. Some are true and some are false. Some are old and some are new. There is no recovery for someone falsely accused — life and career are gone.’’

‘‘We certainly wish him well. It’s obviously a tough time for him. He did a very good job when he was in the White House and hopefully he will have a great career ahead of him,’’ Trump said. ‘‘It was very sad when we heard about it, and certainly he’s also very sad.’’

I guess he’s not said about the women? Of course, Trump has been accused several times himself so it’s not surprising which side he’s on.

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