Showing posts with label Nancy Pelosi. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Nancy Pelosi. Show all posts

Thursday, December 19, 2019

Let's kick California off the island: When bad things happen to a good state

You don't know me but you don't like me,
You say you care less how I feel
How many of you that sit and judge me
Ever walked the streets of Bakersfield?

Streets of Bakersfield
Sung by Buck Owens

I love California, which I've visited many times. Napa Valley is lovely and produces terrific wines. The landscape around Santa Barbara is the most beautiful in the world, surpassing Tuscany and the Li Valley in southwestern China, in my opinion.

Unlike (I suspect) California's politicians, I appreciate the great literature of California. I've read Frank Norris' The Octopus, Nathanael West's Day of the Locust, some of Joan Didion's essays, Richard Henry Dana's Two Years Before the Mast, and many of the works of Jack London and John Steinbeck. I love T.C. Boyles' California novels, particularly The Tortilla Curtain and Budding Prospects.

And Californians are great people. Although I haven't met them all, I've never met a Californian I didn't like. (I might not like Charlie Manson or HarveyWeinstein, but we don't run in the same circles.)

But let's face it. The Californians insist on sending wingnuts to Congress, and these nut jobs are ruining the country.  I'm talking Nancy Pelosi, Adam Schiff, Maxine Waters, etc., etc.  It's got to stop.

So let's vote California off the island. I realize a state can't secede from the Union, but with a constitutional amendment, we can surely vote to kick a state out of the club.

Who could oppose such a move? Texas? North Dakota? Hell, the Californians would jump at the chance to have their own nation.

If California was a country it could do whatever it damn likes. It could have open borders, free sex-change operations for illegal immigrants, and no-charge facelifts. It could require corporations to put convicted rapists on their governing boards and make it a criminal offense for Christians to go to college. The People's Republic of California could give citizens the constitutional right to crap on the sidewalks instead of restricting that privilege to San Francisco.  What's not to like?

Of course, my proposal has some limitations. First of all, the town of Bakersfield--home of Buck Owens, Merle Haggard and the Bakersfield sound--would continue to be part of America.  And the Ronald Reagan Library.  That goes without saying.

And America would keep the military bases and Disney Land.  But Hollywood would be happier if California were a separate nation, and Americans are tired of Hollywood movies anyway.

Think about it. Kicking California out of the USA would solve a lot of problems, and I can think of no downsides. And if Americans get nostalgic about the old California, they can watch classic movies: Vertigo, The Big Lebowski, and The Maltese Falcon.

The Dude abides, man.




Sunday, October 27, 2019

Impeach DeVos, Not Trump: Democrats should focus on Betsy DeVos' outrageous mismanagement of the student-loan program

Let me start by saying this: I am a registered Democrat who voted for Bernie Sanders in the 2016 Democratic primary race in Louisiana. I will vote for a Democrat in Louisiana's 2020 primary election, although I am not happy with my choices.  I am neither a MAGA Republican nor a Never-Trumper; I just want a decent person to be President. Is that too much to ask?

I admit that I am just an old white guy who lives in Flyover Country--and a cisgendered old white guy at that. Nevertheless, I don't get the Democrats' obsession with impeaching President Trump. Congressman Schiff wants to impeach Trump over a phone call? What's that about?

I hate to be the one to break it to you, Adam, but impeachment is never going to happen.  Nancy Pelosi will never call for a vote on the matter, and the Senate will never impeach the President. The 2020 election is only 12 months away--12 months! Why don't the  Democrats focus on nominating a reasonable candidate who can defeat Trump in 2020?

On the other hand, Trump's Education Secretary, Betsy DeVos, is eminently impeachable and should be impeached. I've commented on her outrageously incompetent management of the federal student-loan program on several occasions. DeVos simply refuses to administer the government's various student-loan forgiveness programs in a competent manner. She's screwed up the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program and the Borrower Defense program, and her agency opposes bankruptcy relief for distressed student-loan debtors--no matter how desperate a debtor's circumstances.

And now she has been held in contempt by a federal judge for defying a court order. U.S. Magistrate Judge Sallie Kim ruled that DeVos and DOE violated Judge Kim's preliminary injunction to stop collecting on student loans owed by students who attended Corinthian Colleges, a defunct for-profit college.

Judge Kim was actually pretty steamed about DOE's intransigence. At one point, the Judge said, "I'm not sending anyone to jail yet, but it's good to know I have that ability."

The unlawful collection activities were actually carried out by DOE's contracted student-loan servicers, not DOE itself. But DOE is responsible for the servicers' actions. Mark Brown, a senior DOE official, acknowledged a screw-up. "Although these actions were not done with ill intent," Brown said, "students and parents were affected and we take full responsibility for that."

If the Democrats were smarter, they would focus their impeachment energy on DeVos, not President Trump.  An impeachment inquiry could speed ahead with full compliance with due process.  There would be no need to hold secret hearings in the basement of the Capitol. DeVos' malfeasance is adequately documented by competent evidence, including several adverse court rulings against DeVos and DOE. And I predict that some Republicans in both the House and the Senate would support impeachment once the facts of her maladministration were brought to light.

And impeaching DeVos would publicize to every beaten-down student-loan debtor that the Trump administration doesn't care about them.  President Trump's total indifference to the student-loan train wreck could be exploited by the Democratic candidates who are calling for student-loan forgiveness.

But the Democrats' aren't interested in doing something sensible. Like Captain Ahab chasing the great white whale in Moby Dick, they scour the oceans of bureaucratic nonsense looking for some way to impeach President Trump.  And Trump, like Moby Dick, may wind up putting a great big hole in the Democrats' boat.

Will the Great White Whale sink the Never-Trumpers?








Friday, October 4, 2019

Feds spend millions on Betsy DeVos' personal security: Do Americans hate her that much?

Politico (Nicole Gaudiano and Caitlin Emma) reported that Education Secretary Betsy DeVos' security detail is projected to cost taxpayers $7.87 million in the coming fiscal year. That's up by about $1.5 million over last year's cost: $6.24 million.

Betsy is protected by the U.S. Marshals Service, which says its job is to "monitor and mitigate threats" to DeVos's personal safety.

Is that cost really necessary? After all, the four previous Education secretaries were content to be protected by the Department of Education's modest security force.

I have a few comments about Secretary DeVos' security detail. First, since DeVos' security costs are going up, that must mean that threats against her are accelerating. If that's true, maybe DeVos and President Trump should ask themselves why so many people are angry with her instead of just hiring more marshals.

Indeed, millions of student-loan borrowers have lots of reasons to be mad at Betsy DeVos: her gross mishandling of the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program, her efforts to water down protections for students who were defrauded by their colleges, and her shameless pandering to the for-profit college industry.

But then Betsy DeVos' heavy security detail is probably not that unusual among the nation's top public officials. I feel sure that most powerful politicians--Republicans and Democrats alike--have bodyguards. Do you think Nancy Pelosi, Chuck Schumer, Lindsey Graham, and Mitch McConnell go to the grocery store unaccompanied?

What a world we live in! Our elected and appointed officials--people we count on to look after the public interest--are being driven around in chauffeured limousines--protected from public contact by tinted glass and armed bodyguards. The only citizens they spend any time with are rich people with big checks in their hands.

So if you want to meet Betsy DeVos, you have two choices. You can become filthy rich and make a big donation to the Republican Party. In gratitude, Betsy might invite you over for cocktails on her yacht, the Seaquest.

If you aren't rich, you won't meet Betsy DeVos unless you throw yourself in front of her limousine and get run down by her chauffeur. Maybe then you and Betsy could have a little chat about your student loans while you're waiting for an ambulance.

Betsy's yacht