Skip navigation

Monthly Archives: April 2017

Who are the American people that the politicians and their spokespeople (cohorts) are always speaking about and for? We have had the politicians who are running or backing someone who is running asserting what the “American people” want or do however how do they come by what “the American people” want. I believe this phrase is just another method of garnering attention for or against some issue while putting an idea out there as truth without any backup. It is easy to issue statements that appear to be correct, true or plausible on  the surface but in the light of day they seem to crumble. We have many well known, high profile pundits and on air celebrities who associate with one party or another along with the various sub sects of those parties, yet none can or do speak for the “American People”. It is difficult to speak for people you don’t really know beyond some scientific (sometimes pseudo) information which can be suspect as the sampling for the gathering of this information can be skewed by factors that are as diverse as the “American People”. The idea that a political aspirant can speak for all or most is inherently flawed since these runners selectively meet and greet with their existing or potential constituents. It is unfortunate that the electorate has become so tired of the all of the promises that they will and tend to believe the freshest information that aligns with their current feelings about the government as it relates to their current situation. The real facts as I see them are: We (voters) have to be better informed and not be guided by talking heads whose sole job is to present information as fact according to who they work for. The more controversial the better and the truth is immaterial, voters have to do their own detection of the truth and then vote as they see fit. We have an obligation to ourselves to oust (by vote) any and all representatives who do not truly represent us. Read the Constitution (it is only a few pages) and understand that it is not absolute and therefore can be interpreted according to our times and laws not any individual or organization. The Constitution as with any written or spoken words can be skewed to suit an agenda but personally reading it should give you a better idea of what is about and how it relates. It is unfortunate that we have reached a state that we keep the most divisive people in office  then elect someone who is so unqualified as to be considered inept just because we want change. It is “woke” time

Please Donate

The  strike on the Syrian airfield was effective for a few hours, with no follow up the Syrian air force went to the air again and bombed the same village they attacked before once again. There was no apparent discussions on how to proceed from there. It has been disclosed that the Obama administration was stopped from making a strike by the CONGRESS and now TOTUS authorized the strike with no approval from the same Congress and not a word has been said other than glowing approval from the media and some Congressional members. The issue now is what is to be done now. Given the paucity of truth coming from the Legislators and the Whitehouse, what is the electorate supposed to think? Are we heading for an armed conflict with Russia, North Korea? The titular head of the country seems to be getting his information from the news (FOX?) rather than his self appointed advisors. Where indeed are we headed? It looks as if the spinning fan is nearing its inevitable pile of dung! Taking the continual outpouring of semi and full lies from 1600 and the Dome, we (voters) need to pay attention to everything that is said by the people we elected since many of these small things will resonate for years to come. The town halls that have been occurring in various parts of the US have shown that many formerly pro Trumpists are not happy and have voiced their opinions loud enough to cancel town halls. To add to the mix we have the military leaders working in a vacuum. The first 100 days have become a focal point in the news as to what is being accomplished by the White House. This is no measure of real accomplishment it is merely an arbitrary timeline to compare one administration to another. The campaign side of the race is over and the real work needs to start in a serious manner. Our big issue is how effective will the President be and to what end? It has been said many times and  in as many days- “talk is Cheap!”. Healthcare and job growth will be the big domestic issues, to accomplish either or both will require some critical thinking and looking at them with eyes of the people who are and will be affected their changes. There are jobs in healthcare which will be affected by any changes, there are opportunities to grow jobs if the “wall” resources are put into infrastructure, keeping In mind that coal jobs are not coming back so those folks can be moved into the infrastructure jobs. The soon to be or possible soon to be eliminated environmental jobs will have to go somewhere , how about infrastructure? If the current Congress is for the people then these are just some areas where they can do some good for a change.

Please Donate



Apr. 21, 2017 at 6:01 AM



By Ben Casselman, Kathryn Casteel, Anna Maria Barry-Jester and Maggie Koerth-Baker

Filed under The Trump Administration


Welcome to TrumpBeat, FiveThirtyEight’s weekly feature on the latest policy developments in Washington and beyond. Want to get TrumpBeat in your inbox each week? Sign up for our newsletter. Comments, criticism or suggestions for future columns? Email us or drop a note in the comments.

In the whirlwind first weeks of President Trump’s administration, it often seemed as though he was trying to enact his entire agenda within his first 100 days in office. On Day 1, he moved to undo parts of the Affordable Care Act. Within his first week, he instituted a federal hiring freeze; issued orders on abortion, immigration and manufacturing; and took the first steps toward building his signature border wall. And on the one-week anniversary of his swearing in, he issued the first iteration of his ban on travel from certain Muslim-majority countries.

In retrospect, the travel ban looks like the high-water mark for the “shock and awe” phase of Trump’s presidency. The ban, of course, was quickly blocked by the courts, and from there his momentum stalled. In recent weeks, the narrative has reversed to the point that some pundits are suggesting Trump is already a failure — that Trump, as Josh Barro of Business Insider put it this week, is heading for a “do-nothing presidency.”

That may be wishful thinking on the part of Barro and other Trump critics, however. Yes, Trump has encountered a string of setbacks, perhaps most notably the embarrassing defeat of his effort to repeal and replace Obamacare. And yes, many key elements of his agenda — tax reform, infrastructure spending, a rethinking of U.S. trade policy — are still stuck at the starting gate, or in some cases seem to have been abandoned altogether. But Trump has found plenty of other ways to make his influence felt, often by reversing policies put in place by his predecessor, Barack Obama.

The most obvious accomplishment — the one that even Trump’s sharpest critics acknowledge — is the confirmation of Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court. The vote was a key political win for a president in dire need of one. But its real significance is in the longer term. Gorsuch restored (and perhaps deepened, if he proves to have influence with Justice Anthony Kennedy, for whom he once clerked) the court’s conservative majority. And at only 49, he could serve for decades. It’s too soon to say what effect the new justice could have on abortion or other contentious issues, but it’s safe to assume that Gorsuch’s confirmation will help ensure that Trump’s impact is felt long after he leaves office.

Outside of Gorsuch, Trump’s influence is subtler, but no less real. Take immigration: Courts may have blocked Trump’s travel ban, but they haven’t intervened to stop him from stepping up immigration enforcement and increasing deportations — including of immigrants who had been granted protected status by the Obama administration. Or look at law enforcement, where Trump and Attorney General Jeff Sessions have said they will pull back on the investigations of law-enforcement agencies that were a major part of Obama’s police-reform efforts. Sessions also announced he would end a Justice Department commission working to improve standards for forensic evidence.

Then there is regulation. Trump (with help from the Republican-controlled Congress) has delayed, suspended or reversed dozens of Obama-era rules on banking, data privacy, firearm purchases and other issues. And he has ordered a “one in, two out” policy in which agencies must repeal two rules for every new one they create. (It isn’t clear how that policy will be implemented.) Some of the most significant rule changes are at the Environmental Protection Agency, where Trump and EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt have moved to halt new fuel-economy standards and block new rules on coal-fired power plants, among other changes. Some scientists warn that these steps could put out of reach the greenhouse gas emissions cuts that the U.S. agreed to in Paris in 2015.

In some cases, Trump doesn’t need to do anything to have an impact. Republicans may have failed to repeal the Affordable Care Act, but Trump has thrown into disarray one of the key features of the ACA: the health insurance marketplaces that collectively insure more than 12 million Americans who don’t get coverage through their employers. Some insurers were backing away from the marketplaces even before Trump took office, but uncertainty over the future of the law is threatening to spark an outright exodus. There are steps Trump could take to shore up the marketplace system, but so far he hasn’t taken them — and he has hinted that he will let the marketplaces collapse through inaction.

Taking all these things together, it appears that Trump may not yet have done much to secure his own legacy, but he is making significant progress toward undoing Obama’s. In the long term, for Trump’s presidency to be a success, he will need to begin making policies and passing legislation, steps he has so far been slow to take. But don’t mistake the lack of clear early-term victories for inaction — the consequences of Trump’s first 100 days, good or ill, will be felt for years.

Immigration: Back to square one

Some of Trump’s first actions in office were two executive orders meant to crack down on illegal immigration by implementing tougher enforcement not just at the border but also within the country. This week The Washington Post reported that U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement had arrested 21,362 unauthorized immigrants across the country since Trump took office, a 32.6 percent increase from the previous year. (The data runs through mid-March.) At first glance these numbers might seem consistent with Trump’s promise to get “the bad ones” out of the country. But the Post also noted that of those arrested roughly a quarter, or 5,441, had no criminal record. That’s more than double the number of noncriminal arrests of undocumented immigrants during the same period in 2016. (Many of those arrested eventually will be deported, but because that process can be slow, changed enforcement patterns show up more quickly in arrest data.)

Look back a bit further, however, and the recent increase in enforcement looks less dramatic. The pace of arrests is running well behind the 29,238 made during the same period in 2014; that year, there were 7,483 noncriminal arrests through mid-March, which represented a similar share of the total as this year’s numbers.

Immigration arrests from Jan. 20 to March 13, by year
2017 Trump 5.4k 15.9k 21.3k
2016 Obama 2.2 13.8 16.1
2015 Obama 2.3 15.6 18.0
2014 Obama 7.4 21.7 29.2

Source: Immigration Customs and Enforcement

In the final two years of Obama’s term, however, both arrests and deportations dropped sharply. That was no accident: In November 2014, then-Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson issued a memorandum setting out new priorities for immigration enforcement. Under the new policy, the administration said it would focus on deporting noncitizens who were considered national security threats, who were convicted felons or gang members, or who were apprehended immediately at the border. In fiscal year 2016, 83.7 percent of people deported fell into one of those groups.

Trump’s orders reset these priorities. ICE agents no longer exempt any categories of unauthorized immigrants from enforcement, and the general rhetoric from the Trump administration surrounding who is considered a “criminal” has become broader. “It is fair to say that the definition of criminal has not changed, but where on the spectrum of criminality we operate has changed,” said Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly on NBC’s Meet the Press.

Drug policy: Will opioid use be treated as a crime or a health problem?

Promising to end the opioid crisis was a frequent refrain of Trump’s campaign, and the issue was one of the few for which he laid out policy approaches. He would close the borders so drugs couldn’t get across and instate tough sentences for dealers while simultaneously improving treatment options for people with addiction. He has begun to follow through on the latter, with his health and human services secretary’s announcement of $485 million in grants that states can use for addiction treatment. (The funding came from a bipartisan bill signed by Obama.) He also tasked New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie — who has supported treating drug addiction as a public health problem rather than only a criminal one — with leading a commission on the opioid crisis.

Targeting the supply of drugs once they are in the U.S. is a more complicated matter, however. Is a person with an addiction to prescription pain pills a criminal if he or she sells a handful of pills to a friend or a person in need of treatment? A recent analysis in Florida by the libertarian publication Reason found that local law-enforcement agencies have made a habit of convincing pain patients to sell pills and then doling out long prison sentences. Of the estimated 2,300 people serving time in Florida for trafficking opioids (overwhelmingly oxycodone or hydrocodone) under laws meant to target large-scale traffickers, 63 percent are in prison for the first time. Many worked as confidential informants in exchange for reduced sentences, helping to expand the web of people in jail for relatively minor drug offenses.

Tough approaches to minor drug crimes are hardly isolated to Florida. One Ohio city is charging people who overdose with misdemeanors. An analysis from The New York Times found that nationally, prison admissions from counties with fewer than 100,00 people have risen, even though crime has fallen in those same places, largely because of drug-related crimes.

Under Trump, Sessions has supported using criminal prosecution as a primary tool for reducing drug-related crimes, as well as tough sentencing laws. He recently hired Steven H. Cook, one of the most vocal supporters of policies from the 1980s and ’90s that filled state prisons with people serving long, mandatory minimum sentences for drug-related crimes. The Obama administration had begun moving away from these strict approaches, which disproportionately penalized-African Americans, and granted clemency to hundreds of people serving prison terms for nonviolent drug offenses. Trump’s administration appears to be bringing that old model back.

With the opioid crisis in front of us, many politicians have pushed for a public health approach to drug-related crimes. But so far under Trump, such crimes are still often being treated with jail time.

Environmental policy: Honest work

The Trump administration has faced lots of criticism for its steps to roll back open data and its proposed cuts to environmental and scientific programs. So it might seem like the scientific community would embrace a Republican-backed effort to promote transparency in decision making at the EPA. But the HONEST Act, as it is known, is getting a chilly reception from many scientists who say the bill is really a stealth effort to undermine the EPA’s ability to protect the environment.

The act, which passed the House at the end of March, sure sounds good on paper. It would require the EPA to base its decisions on scientific research that is publicly available for independent analysis. But the biggest issues are tied to that “publicly available” part. Most of the academic journals that edit, coordinate the peer-review of, and publish scientific research exist to make money. So they charge for access, making most scientific papers not exactly publicly available by many standards. The HONEST Act goes even further, requiring that raw data behind a published research paper also be publicly available in order for the EPA to use it. There are hundreds of open data repositories online, but using them is not yet the norm — and definitely wasn’t common just a few years ago. A 2016 review found that for all the research published before 2010, just over 2,200 data sets had been uploaded to the five most-respected generalist repositories. There are 2.5 million research papers published every year. Even the 77,000 data sets published by those five repositories in 2015 don’t come close to keeping pace.

There are some good reasons why scientists should be making their data publicly available — and, increasingly, they’re doing so. But making data, especially old data, public is expensive, time-consuming work that requires workers to convert data, servers to store it and funding to pay commercial publishers for rights. Then there is the cost of making sure that the data stays secure and anonymous.

Officially, the EPA says implementing the HONEST Act would require only “minimal funding.” But according to an internal EPA estimate that was leaked to the public radio program Marketplace, the bill would cost $250 million a year — a big deal for an agency that has proposed to cut or freeze funding to damn near every program it operates. Pruitt’s office appears to have gotten around that hurdle by assuming that the agency will simply not use any research that doesn’t already meet the open-data standard, which according to the leaked document could reduce the research the EPA is allowed to reference by as much as 95 percent. No wonder scientists are nervous.

Ben Casselman is a senior editor and the chief economics writer for FiveThirtyEight. @bencasselman

Kathryn Casteel writes about economics and policy issues for FiveThirtyEight. @kathryncasteel

Anna Maria Barry-Jester reports on public health, food and culture for FiveThirtyEight. @annabarryjester

Maggie Koerth-Baker is a senior science writer for FiveThirtyEight. @maggiekb1

Please Donate

© Tatiana Ayazo/
Imagine you’re a dictionary editor. For eight hours a day, five days a week, every week until the heat death of the universe or the day human beings stop speaking English (whichever comes first), it’s your job to ensure that your trusted reference book keeps pace with the relentlessly evolving definitions of our ceaselessly expanding English language. ‘No sweat,’ you think, picking up two boxes of citations for words beginning with the letter R. ‘Where do I start?’ That’s when you realize these boxes of citations, hundreds of scraps of paper showing each word in every possible context, are all for a single word. A three-letter word—the most complicated, multifaceted word in the English language.You might think it’s absurd (and maybe it is), but Oxford English Dictionary editors recently revealed that ‘run’ has indeed become the single word with the most potential meanings in all of English, boasting no fewer than 645 different usage cases for the verb form alone. The copious definitions of ‘run’ featured in the OED’s upcoming third edition begin with the obvious, ‘to go with quick steps on alternate feet,’ then proceed to run on for 75 columns of type. This entry, in all its girth, took one professional lexicographer nine months of research to complete. How could three little letters be responsible for so much meaning?
Context is everything. Think about it: When you run a fever, for example, those three letters have a very different meaning than when you run a bath to treat it, or when your bathwater subsequently runs over and drenches your cotton bath runner, forcing you to run out to the store and buy a new one. There, you run up a bill of $85 because besides a rug and some cold medicine, you also need some thread to fix the run in your stockings and some tissue for your runny nose and a carton of milk because you’ve run through your supply at home, and all this makes dread run through your soul because your value-club membership runs out at the end of the month and you’ve already run over your budget on last week’s grocery run when you ran over a nail in the parking lot and now your car won’t even run properly because whatever idiot runs that Walmart apparently lets his custodial staff run amok and you know you’re letting your inner monologue run on and on but, God—you’d do things differently if you ran the world. Maybe you should run for office,to run through the whole list of definitions? Alas, to read all 645 meanings you’ll have to wait for the next edition of the Oxford English Dictionary. The print run is expected in 2037.

Please Donate

The campaign trail allows for many quotes and statements that sound good at the time and creates a narrative to receive votes. The many styles of campaign rhetoric  and promises have consequences such as delivery. The confidence of the voters is what gets votes and it appears that confidence is eroding. When you have headliners like Sean Spacer, Kellyanne Conwoman and Devin Nuneofus, it is hard to be taken seriously. The first 80 plus days have seen much ado over nothing except executive orders that don’t do much as they do not immediately become effective. The end game on these touted signings is more of a photo op than a real action. The downside is that the pinch of these orders will haunt us all for possibly decades. The repeal of the executive orders of the previous administration without a detailed look at the orders is a potential head on run into a brick wall without a helmet. These types of actions appear to be the methodology of the Trump administration. It is apparently the business man’s method of action, that is to shoot from the hip with just a smattering of information with no thought to the future effects of those actions. There appears to be some evidence of Trump pulling out of deals or activities if they do not progress the way he wants. The line of thought seems to be based on news summaries and semi solid information rather than solid information from staffers who are supposed to be available to verify or corroborate information. What have now is indeed a “failure to communicate”. Meanwhile the Dupublican Congress is busy in the background undermining the trust and health of the voters whom they so often cite as the reason for their actions.

Please Donate

As I was at the keyboard searching the news, it occurred to me that we have less than we need in the Whitehouse. Looking over some of the many tweets and outbursts, I have decided that we may have a sleep walker who while awake has no idea what is happening around him. While asleep , he tweets based on small mental hic cups that he believes are revelations and insights. Now in a wake state he has attacked Syria via its airbases. This is not a bad move considering Syria’s deadly gas attack on civilians . The only issue is that the Congress should have been notified of his intentions before he notified Russia. Again we have a wild card issue that could create more issues in an area that already is on shaky ground no matter what support we receive from our “partners” . We now have a broader issue with Russia and Iran, both of whom have interest in keeping the area destabilized  (much like our Congress). Russia is in it for the oil reserves and the naval and air bases. Iran is considered a major supporter of terrorism and will continue to be no matter what sanctions are imposed on them. The downside in all of this is the citizenry who continue to suffer under the Syrian and Iranian regimes. Any of our actions against either regimes ultimately affects the innocents which creates an additional rift between the west and their country. With the issue of a ” Muslim ban”, the innocents who have been vetted for years have little hope of survival unless joining with the Radical elements (ISIS and others). The area is still in flux and will continue to be until each affected Nation’s legitimate Government forces can successfully defeat ISIS and other radical elements who currently hold a disruptive position in their respective countries. Presently we have a crew of “diplomats” who have a treasure trove of inexperience and are making pronouncements that will surely cause us more grief as the Trump administration continues to “Tweet” along. At the same time our “Congress?” continues on the whiny path of doing their worst to the “American People” they have so often cited as the reasons for their actions. The picture for me is as clear as glass, we have to make the leap from victim to citizen and in a hurry. Pay attention to everything this administration does and do not be swept up in the hysteria promoted by rhetoricals issued by the Administration and some of the news media. We as citizens have become too caught up in what is said in the media and living in the mindset of “reality” shows. We are doomed to poor government as long as we want to be entertained rather that served by the people we elect.

Please Donate

Thinking and reading about the political scene local and Federal, I had a thought about the people who we elect to serve  or speak for us. Their opinion is not what matters! It is the will and opinion of the voters. The sole job of the elected officials is to take those opinions and the voter’s will  to the meeting rooms in Government and translate that information into Government policy that makes sense and works. We have seen the poor results for years and have not understood the basis of those results. To put this in perspective: When a person arrives in the centers of Government they are sworn in and have to pledge allegiance to the municipality and the Nation, the Nation and municipality being the citizenry they are supposed to represent. It is not illegal to give an opinion but it is (or should be) illegal to under or misrepresent the people who voted for them. It appears to be normal to offer what the “American People” want rather than what the American people need. That offer flies in the face of what the oft quoted “American People” are really asking for. It is so easy to make rash or suspect statements and hope the statement takes hold or collapses before the truth comes out but reality is less believable at that point. With the availability of news sources (many suspect) there is no reason to totally believe what comes out of the mouths of our elected officials. My manner of getting information is to look at several sources and put together a picture that makes sense generally. This information does not always make a perfect picture but it does form a basis to get the truth. How many times recently have you thought to yourself “what is this person I voted for talking about?”. The party affiliation does not matter as both sides only want asses in the seats so to speak. The reason I believe we are at odds with one another is that the elected officials want the power to do the bidding of their majority moneyed backers and at the same time tell us that they are working for us. To accomplish this trick the electeds go to town halls and other venues and tell the attendees what they want them to hear. There are times when many of us want to say “shut the hell up” when we hear the electeds and their spokespeople talk. Perhaps we should look at the speeches like a shoe lace that you just tied, as you move it becomes untied. It appears that what we are being told is like that shoelace.

Please Donate

There is a phone scam in additional to all of the others we know about. Dell has reported that a phone scam from someone pretending to be from Dell about issues with your computer. These people are India (and who knows where else). They definitely have the accent and often purposely try to speak as unclear as possible. They use American names. These calls are made via Skype so sometimes the quality is poor. Remember Dell does not solicit any business by phone and will never call you unless you initiate the contact. Dell’s call center is indeed in India but the representative use their given Indian names not American names. There are accents however they make every effort to be clear in speaking and will get someone who speaks clearer if you need that. The important thing to remember is: Dell will never call you unless you initiate the contact, Dell has a website that will allow you to report such contacts ( These scammers will be using the Dell phone number 800 624 9896, this indeed is Dell’s phone number, if you call it you will reach Dell. These scammers have figured out how to use Skype calling to make these contacts using this phone number as a cover. I have had the same type of call using my phone numbers as a cover to call me.

Please Donate

How many times daily, weekly or monthly do you wish we had better government? In my writings I have mentioned the power of the voters. I should add that the voters who are informed or “woke” as the younger people say will be the winners. We have for the past 10 to 20 years been suffering under poor legislators who expect us to just vote for them because we recognize their names. To be fair some legislators are doing good and sometimes better work . It appears that we (voters) need to pay less attention to the hype and look at the results or we will end up with another much less than we deserve State Administrator or CIC. To anyone who reads this I want to make a few points ,a
1.forget whatever party you have voted for all of these years.
2. do not get caught up in labels they mean nothing and only cripple your ability to make rational choices.
3. As voters the advertising world has become our information source in the form of political campaign information – Tums anyone?
4. When you ask for tissues is it “Kleenex” or something else?

My point is simple: any politician who cannot answer a question straight out is not to be trusted, we already have more than enough side talkers and barkers serving in the electorate as it is. This covers all elected officials from  city to Federal so do not get hung up on Carp and nonsense. It does not matter to me if you agree or disagree as facts are facts. Fiery rhetoric serves only to fire up the crowd and ignore the issues. The truth is that which hits you in the face unwaveringly with no change. The truth can be altered but only by more truth while lies can be altered constantly to suit the occasion. The question now becomes: Are you emboldened or woke?

Please Donate

The Dupublican Congress has created a precedent which will haunt them for years. “Mitch” will continue to be a lost boy who really believes he is right as he wields power but over time  the fractious Senate members will show how wrong he has been. This is indicative of how we as voters lose focus on our elected officials and continue electing them without a reexamination of what they have done to or for us. If this examination is done we will soon see that their words do not match their actions. Our fault in this is not taking these people to task when they stray. Their hope is that we do not pay attention with that in mind many of the laws enacted are not good for us. Healthcare is a big one so looking at the healthcare and benefits of the Congress, they are under the ACA but their plans are vastly different than what we can or will get. Don’t we as voters and citizens deserve as good a plan as the Congress, the people we elected and therefore are their bosses?  The nuclear option has set a precedent for future High court appointees and will as history will show create a path to less qualified Judicial members. Our Congress (save a few) who allowed the Nuclear option to proceed is possibly the worst in years and we do not have to take it. Forget labels and look at the candidates. If a candidate unwaveringly touts the party line or  mindset then that person needs a close look and very possibly a pass. We as voters have been advertised into voting for people and we are the worse for it. Advertising is bad enough for touting products we may or may not want nor need but when it comes to representatives it is more like an arm twist until we give in. It is in our power as voters to change how government works but if we do not become woke we are destined to repeat the same mistakes and keep the same sorry folks in office.

Please Donate

%d bloggers like this: