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Posts published in “Jones”

Trade wars and fire in the Amazon

jones

What possible connection could the fires in the Amazon rainforest have with Trump’s trade war against China? Well, Brazilian farmers and ranchers are lusting to replace U.S. farmers as China’s go-to supplier of agricultural products. They need additional ground to grow soybeans and other crops to export to China, while China needs a new source of foodstuffs to make up for the curtailment of American-grown imports. So, burn baby, burn.

U.S. farm exports have been a bright spot in America’s foreign trade picture for years, due to the productivity of American farmers. Until recently, China has been a growing market for our agricultural products, increasing by 700% from 2000 to 2017. China bought $19.1 billion worth of U.S. farm exports in 2017, according to the American Farm Bureau.

These sales to China did not come easy. U.S. farmers worked hard to build up relationships with Chinese buyers and reasonably expected increasing sales into the future. Then came the Trump trade wars. Farm exports plummeted to $9.1 billion in 2018 and will continue dropping.

Trump started the trade war to punish the Chinese for stealing American technology. Why not instead work with our allies to collectively target the theft itself, like prohibiting the importation of goods containing stolen technology? It was entirely predictable that China would retaliate against our agricultural sector. American farmers are paying the price for a misbegotten trade fight and that price is steadily increasing.

While U.S. farmers have suffered, Brazilian farmers have greatly increased their China trade. The South China Morning Post reported in May that Brazil’s soybean farmers “have triumphed spectacularly in the US-China trade war.” Their exports to China increased by 30% last year, while U.S. sales dropped by half.

The Brazilians struggled to meet the China demand last year and need to put additional land into production to serve the growing market in China, both for crops and meat products. Most of the Amazon fires have reportedly been started or cheered on by agricultural interests to get more farmable land. Brazil’s president, Jair Bolsonaro, has encouraged the deforestation. Our President tweeted that Bolsonaro has “the full and complete support of the USA.”

Farm equipment companies are also suffering from Trump’s trade war because U.S. farm income has fallen along with the loss of the Chinese export market. While our farmers are buying less machinery, the equipment manufacturers have found markets elsewhere, particularly in Brazil where there is an increasing demand.

It is quite likely that American farmers will be unable to win back the Chinese markets they worked so hard to establish over the last couple of decades. Now that the trade relationship with the U.S. has been broken, China may come to regard Brazil as a more strategic and reliable government to trade with. Brazil has the advantage of not being a political adversary of China. And Brazil gives China a new partner in the United States’ traditional sphere of influence in South America.

The Amazon fires are also a global warming threat since the Amazon rainforest has traditionally absorbed about 5% of global carbon dioxide emissions. The burning rainforest releases carbon dioxide while reducing Earth’s capacity to capture future CO2 emissions.

In sum, the Trump trade war with China is an all-around loser for the United States. The U.S. farm economy suffers, while Brazilian farmers and ranchers take over our markets in China. They expand those export markets by deforesting the Amazon rainforest. That, in turn, contributes to global warming, which will make it harder for our farmers to grow foodstuffs for the world. Who expected a fancy pants New York real estate developer to know how to protect America’s farm economy?
 

Striking out at red tape, sometimes

jones

Idaho has undertaken a crusade to rid its businesses of government red tape and burdensome, purposeless administrative rules. The Governor and Legislature have celebrated the elimination or simplification of about 40% of the State government’s rules and are taking aim at another 15-20 percent of those pesky regulations.

At the same time, the government has imposed a hefty red-tape burden on working folks who earn too much to qualify for Medicaid, but too little to qualify for subsidized insurance under the Affordable Care Act. Idaho voters said last November that the people in this gap should be able to get healthcare under Medicaid without a bunch of bureaucratic red tape. The Medicaid expansion initiative passed with a 61% vote.

However, the Legislature could not resist adding some burdensome requirements to the people-passed law, including a so-called work requirement. Actually, most able-bodied folks in the Medicaid gap are working people. If they were not working and making too much to qualify for Medicaid, they probably would already be getting Medicaid and would not have to worry about how they were going to stay healthy.

The work requirement will not force people in the gap to get a job because most of them already have one or more already. What it will force them to do is to file government reports in order to maintain their Medicaid eligibility. If they don’t file these burdensome reports, they can lose their healthcare.

The needless reports will mostly be filed online. Good luck with that for the thousands of gap folks who don’t have access to the internet. US News rates Idaho 41st in the country for internet access. Arkansas, which ranked 50th in US News, experienced substantial reporting problems when it imposed a work requirement. Many gap folks who were fully employed lost their medical care because they could not navigate the reporting requirement. Talk about a red tape nightmare.

A federal court in Arkansas struck the Arkansas work-reporting requirement down as violative of the Medicaid law. A state can get a waiver for a variation in its Medicaid program if the variation serves the purpose of the Medicaid law. That purpose is to assist low-income people to get medical services. The court ruled that there was no evidence the work requirement served that purpose. In fact, it did just the opposite, depriving them of health coverage.

Courts in Kentucky and New Hampshire have also struck down so-called work requirements as being in violation of the Medicaid law. It is likely the Idaho reporting requirement would also be stricken if the federal government were to improperly grant Idaho a waiver for its work requirement. The suit would provide public-minded lawyers yet another opportunity to get an award of attorney fees for challenging an unwise state law.

The Idaho Legislature provided a fallback in case a person failed to file a proper work report. Rather than totally losing coverage, the person would be liable for a co-pay. I don’t see how that could serve the purpose of the Medicaid law and suspect that it would not suffice to keep the reporting requirement from being invalidated by a court.

Idahoans who disagree with the work-reporting requirement can and should register their opposition on or before September 22. Comments can be submitted to 1115.comments@dhw.idaho.gov.

Take the time to let Idaho’s public servants know that the State’s deregulation process should extend down the financial ladder to those who are working hard at low-paying jobs that do not provide health coverage. The voters did not want this obnoxious requirement and it should be stricken as an impediment to providing the medical care that folks in the Medicaid gap need.
 

Five dimensional chess

jones

The President’s supporters have often claimed that Trump is playing three-dimensional chess while we mere mortals are only capable of comprehending checkers. I was sceptical of this contention until it was disclosed that Trump is hot to to buy Greenland.

The pieces of the puzzle finally fell into place. Trump’s plan is mind blowing-- a strategy that could only have been developed by a super computer capable of five-dimensional chess or by that remarkable individual known as “the Chosen One.”

Trump has pretended all along that climate change is a hoax perpetrated by the Chinese. In actuality, he understands that the ice sheets at both poles and Greenland are melting to beat the band, which will raise the sea level around the world. He is likely aware of the Penn State researchers’ conclusion that the global sea level would rise about 24 feet if all of the Greenland ice were to melt. About 100 million people live in areas that would be flooded by a rise of 3 feet, but just think of the havoc and dislocation a 24-foot rise would cause.

So, where are Trump’s golf courses located? A number of the trump-branded courses are located within several long tee shots of those rising waters--Doral, Balmedie, West Palm Beach, Jupiter--while others are close enough that they would be substantially impacted. A normal person might guard against the threat of inundation by merely relocating the golf resorts to higher ground, but a stable genius would think far outside of the box and be light years ahead of us conventional thinkers.

The President has been planning all along to allow global warming to go unabated so that all of the Greenland ice will melt away. As the owner of Greenland, Trump can then develop the real estate where the ice had been with fantastic new golf resorts on what will come to be known as the “Trump Purchase.” True Genius!!!

Unfortunately, the Danish foreign minister has posed a temporary problem by throwing cold water (perhaps ice melt) on the President’s plan, claiming the island is not for sale. It is unlikely this will frustrate the brilliant scheme because Trump can impose crushing tariffs on that little nation until it relents, provided he can figure out what it exports to America. Our ace in the hole is that the person who Trump appointed as ambassador to Denmark, a former chiropractor and B-movie star (“Deathstalker and the Warriors from Hell”), is on the case and likely to manipulate the body politic in that little country in favor of the deal.

Regrettably, the ice-melting project will entail some collateral damage. As the Greenland ice sheet disappears, large swaths of our coasts will become uninhabitable, but on the bright side most of those folks did not support Trump in the 2016 election. Another glitch is that much of the higher ground around the world will also become uninhabitable because of scorching heat and the inability to grow foodstuffs as a result of drought, torrential downpours, or other climate calamities.

The planet will become unfriendly to plants, animals and every other life form, except, perhaps, for the billionaire class. They may be able to survive in heavily-guarded, air-conditioned sanctuaries, which, of course, will be surrounded by impenetrable walls to keep the commoners out. They will be able to enjoy those wonderful golf courses on what might come to be known as Trumphaven, a last resort for the “Chosen Few.”
 

Afghanistan’s fate

jones

After Osama bin Laden launched his attack against the U.S. on September 11, 2001, we responded with a military operation to destroy him and his terrorist network. We started with an air attack on his bases in Afghanistan on October 7, 2001, and soon followed up on the ground with a relatively small fighting force. Bin Laden unfortunately escaped, but he and his cutthroats were forced out of Afghanistan and his Afghan hosts, the Taliban, were removed from power.

Despite having an opportunity to consolidate our remarkable success and help Afghanistan get back on its feet, the U.S. allowed despotic warlords and corrupt politicians to take control of the country. Worse yet, we decided to invade Iraq on the false pretense that it had played a part in the 9-11 attack.

Instead of taking advantage of the good will we had established with the Afghans as a result of lifting the oppressive rule of the Taliban, we shifted vital equipment and military personnel to the costly wild goose chase in Iraq. More than anything else, the virtual abandonment of Afghanistan in order to depose Saddam Hussein doomed any chance of a favorable outcome for the Afghans.

After 18 years of struggle in Afghanistan with no happy ending in sight, the U.S. is trying to negotiate a departure from the country that will not look like an admission of failure. It is taking on the look of declaring a partial victory and then bugging out of the country, much like we did in Vietnam.

It is odd that the negotiations do not involve the government of Afghanistan since it obviously has a vital interest in the outcome. And, it appears the substance of the negotiations primarily relates to when U.S. troops will leave the country. We seem to be willing to commit to a troop withdrawal schedule so long as the Taliban officials promise to be good boys.

The Taliban also say they will try to work out some sort of deal with the official government but there is no indication of what that would look like. The Taliban can’t speak for the Islamic State in Afghanistan, which is a serious and growing danger to the U.S. Is ISIS going to be free to plot attacks on America from Afghanistan like Bin Laden did? The proposal is silent about the ISIS threat.

The negotiating posture of our side has not been helped by the President, who is desperate to bail out of Afghanistan before the 2020 election. Just after he appointed his lead negotiator, Trump surprised his advisers last December by declaring he wanted to immediately withdraw half of the U.S. troops from Afghanistan--probably not the best negotiating technique. It might be best for the President to refrain from publicly making unilateral concessions that undercut his negotiators.

The sacrifices of American troops, who fought so hard for an honorable outcome, demand that we negotiate an outcome that does not amount to cutting and running. A definite and workable settlement between the Taliban and Afghan government should be a requirement for any U.S. troop withdrawal. There should be assurance of protection of womens’ rights. The Taliban should firmly commit to intensify its fight against ISIS. It should face military consequences if it fails to honor its obligations.

America is also honor bound, regardless of how the negotiations turn out, to offer refuge in our country to those Afghans who put themselves at risk by protecting and helping our troops. The U.S. has a special visa program for these folks but there are nearly 20,000 Afghans desperately waiting in line while the number of visas issued has slowed to a trickle. We owe it to these people who put their lives at risk to help our forces.

More special visas will be needed following almost any settlement and the Congress should act immediately to substantially increase the number authorized. I am still haunted by our abandonment of so many of our South Vietnamese friends to a horrible fate at the hands of the communists in 1975. Let’s not repeat that national disgrace again with our Afghan friends.
 

What doesn’t belong on our streets

jones

During my service in Vietnam, I had the opportunity to witness the use of a variety of weapons that were specifically designed to kill or maim as many people as possible in the shortest amount of time. My heavy artillery battalion could kill hundreds of Communists at a time with 200-pound high explosive shells, ferocious white phosphorus rounds, and cluster munitions that scattered grenade-sized bomblets over a wide area.

There were beehive rounds used in close combat that contained dozens of small flechettes, which looked like tiny darts. They were designed to tumble upon impact and rip an adversary’s innards apart. American forces were equipped with the M-16 assault rifle, which could spew out hundreds of rounds per minute. The M-16 has a high velocity round designed to cause maximum damage to the bodies of enemy soldiers.

The M-16 round comes out of the barrel going almost three times faster than a bullet fired from a typical handgun. Consequently, they have much more energy and cause much more damage in a victim’s body, virtually liquifying flesh and nearby organs. A non-lethal hit can cause catastrophic damage. For military purposes, taking an enemy soldier off of the battlefield with such an injury is next best to killing him. Do we really want this kind of horrendous injury to be inflicted on our friends, neighbors and children?

A surgeon who treated victims of the Parkland School shooting in Florida, which involved an AR-15, the civilian version of the M-16, observed that the “high velocity bullet causes a swath of tissue damage that extends several inches from its path. It does not have to actually hit an artery to damage it and cause catastrophic bleeding. Exit wounds can be the size of an orange.” That is exactly what these war weapons were designed to do.

The surgeon noted, “One of the trauma surgeons opened a young victim in the operating room, and found only shreds of the organ that had been hit by a bullet from an AR-15... Nothing was left to repair--and utterly, devastatingly, nothing could be done to fix the problem. The injury was fatal.”

When I visited the War Remnants Museum in Saigon in January of 2018, I saw exhibits denouncing both the M-16 and the beehive rounds as war crime weapons. The Communists were obviously aware of the grievous injuries these weapons inflicted on their troops. But, they were weapons of war specifically designed to do maximum damage to human bodies. It is doubtful that anyone could have imagined 50 years ago that the civilian version of the M-16 would be commonplace on the streets of civilian America.

The rapid rate of fire of AR-15 style firearms, as well as their excellent killing power, have made them the weapon of choice of mass murder enthusiasts in the United States--Parkland (FL), Newtown (CT), Las Vegas (NV), San Bernardino (CA), Pittsburgh (PA), Aurora (CO), Sutherland Springs (TX) and, most recently Dayton (OH), where the shooter managed to kill 9 people and wound 17 others in just 32 seconds with an AR-15 pistol. Seems the Dayton guy was going for a world kill record with his 100-round magazines. Darn lucky the police were on the ball and able to end it quickly.

It is high time to get war weapons out of the hands of civilians and off of the streets and school grounds of America. We need to ban sales of assault rifles--all variants of the M-16, the Communist AK-47 and its variants (used recently in El Paso), and similar weapons designed to kill human beings quickly and effectively. In the process, all high capacity magazines should also be banned. This won’t stop all mass shootings, but it will start making a dent. We simply can’t sit on our hands and allow these war-weapon-assisted mass killings to continue devastating communities across the country.
 

A participant’s reflections

jones

Americans call it the Vietnam War. Present-day Vietnamese call it the American War. Whatever it is called, the 407 days I served in that war have had a profound effect on my life ever since returning home on August 30, 1969. My experience is chronicled in my newly-released book, Vietnam…Can’t get you out of my mind.

I’d been commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in 1964, graduated from law school three years later, and finished artillery school in March of 1968. The Army initially sent me to Okinawa, but I requested and was reassigned to Vietnam.

My heavy artillery battalion provided artillery support for all of Tay Ninh Province, which is about 55 miles northwest of Saigon. The Province bulges into Cambodia and was a main terminus of the Ho Chi Minh Trail. The northern half of the Province was largely triple canopy jungle and decidedly hostile territory. Several North Vietnamese military facilities were located just over the border in Cambodia, but we could not disturb them.

During most of my tour, I worked with and lived among soldiers of the Army of the Republic of South Vietnam (ARVNs) at the Province headquarters in Tay Ninh City. My 4-man liaison unit had the responsibility of clearing all air strikes and artillery fire in the Province. It was our job to ensure that civilians and friendly forces were not endangered.

Most of the ARVNs I worked with were Catholics from nearby Cao Xa village. When Vietnam was partitioned in 1954, the village was located in North Vietnam. Father Dzu moved the whole village to Tay Ninh Province to escape Communist persecution. They were refugees in their own country. The Communists repeatedly attacked Cao Xa but were always repulsed by the fighting men, women and children of that valiant village.

I also worked with ARVNs who were members of the Cao Dai faith. It is a universalist religion formed in Tay Ninh City in 1926. The church claimed 3 million members in Vietnam and neighboring countries. It operated an orphanage in the city with about 73 kids, mostly orphans of war.

When I learned about the orphanage, my liaison unit adopted it as a civic action project. We brought food, clothes, fire wood, a generator, an electric water pump and a variety of other supplies. We had a number of parties for the kids, introducing them to ice cream and hot dogs, both of which they loved. My unit was often at the orphanage and I have to say the kids worked their way into our hearts.

The orphanage work had a completely unexpected twist. During one of the daily trips I made to the base camp where my battalion headquarters was located, I received an Army Commendation Medal for helping the orphans. Although he did not believe in gambling, Major Keith Painter from Logan, Utah, likely saved my skin by insisting that I stay the night at base camp and play poker with the other officers. The Communists destroyed my living quarters at Province headquarters that very night.

One of my duties was to assist the Special Forces units in Tay Ninh Province with their artillery needs. They had an administrative unit, B-32, in the city and a number of smaller “A” camps located in dangerous territory around the Province. They were dedicated soldiers and good people.

Another job was to conduct artillery fire missions from the back seat of a rickety little two-seat spotter airplane called a Bird Dog. We flew over the jungle at about 800 feet to shoot at intelligence targets or whatever looked suspicious. We had to shoot up all of our monthly allocation of ammunition, even if we could not find a promising target. If we did not use up all of the month’s allotment, we might be cut back the following month—shoot it or lose it.

As a full-fledged lawyer, I was defense counsel of choice for the soldiers in the battalion who faced court martial for a variety of offenses. The charges generally involved yielding to temptations of the flesh in Saigon when the soldiers were supposed to be fetching ammunition for our guns.

The ARVNs I worked with became good friends. I trusted them with my life and, thankfully, was never disappointed. We were the only Americans living in the headquarters area, and any one of dozens of ARVNs could have quietly tossed a grenade under our bunks any night, but it never happened. They had a lot to lose if the Communists took over. The Catholics would face annihilation and the Cao Dais would suffer religious persecution.

When I got home, I thought the orphans and my ARVN friends would be safe, even as we brought our troops home. President Nixon promised that the U.S. would supply the ARVNs and provide air support in the event of a North Vietnamese general offensive. That happened when the northerners launched their ferocious Easter Offensive in 1972, which the ARVNs repulsed with our help. Unfortunately, we utterly failed the ARVNs three years later when the Communists launched their Spring Offensive and drove all the way to Saigon.

It broke my heart when I saw the pictures of the Communists taking over in Saigon in April 1975. I knew my friends in Tay Ninh were in mortal danger. The way the war ended still causes me great pain. I saw it as a tragic betrayal of our ARVN allies and a giant stain on the honor of this great country. I was sickened by the cries from some quarters that we should not take in refugees from that conflict.

Quite a number of Vietnam veterans suffered mightily from the war experience. We failed to give them the help and support they needed to get healthy and successfully reintegrate into society.

The majority of vets were able to move on in a positive direction, using the experience to improve their lives and build their communities. It has certainly been a powerful influence in how I view the world. It shaped my view of service to country--every young American should have the opportunity to serve this country in either a military or civilian role.

It is essential to treat victims of war and calamity--refugees and asylum seekers--with compassion and dignity. We have a moral responsibility to provide refuge to those who helped U.S. troops in foreign conflicts. Over 100,000 Iraqis and Afghans who risked their necks helping our troops are in danger as they wait and hope for entry into the U.S. When we start a conflict, we also have a responsibility to help the civilian refugees it produces.

We should never go to war unless a vital national interest is at stake. The war in Iraq was unnecessary--one of our greatest foreign policy blunders since World War II. We absolutely forgot every lesson we should have learned from Vietnam. If our leaders had studied the mistakes of Vietnam, we might have stayed out of Iraq and may have been able to leave Afghanistan years ago.

One positive thing we all seem to have learned is that those who serve the nation in foreign conflicts deserve the respect of the nation, even if the conflict is unpopular. Many Vietnam veterans came home to indifference or even hostility. It heartens me that our service personnel in recent years have been appreciated by their fellow Americans.

Two years ago, my wife and I went to Vietnam--my only trip back. We visited Hanoi, as well as a number of cities in what used to be South Vietnam. After a couple of decades of suffering, the folks in the south seem to be doing relatively well. Cao Xa village has a new name, but the Catholic Church of Father Dzu no longer exists. Where there were thousands of bomb craters in the northern part of the Province, there are now farms, villages and rubber trees.

We felt welcome everywhere we went. The Vietnamese people were so friendly, just like I remember my friends from 50 years ago. The war is behind them and our two counties are becoming aligned in many ways. You wonder whether there was any necessity for the past hostilities.

My new book outlines this experience and how it has played out in my life--how I was inspired to public service by President Kennedy, pursued the law, went to war, and have tried to make a difference in public affairs. Although I left Vietnam in 1969, I doubt it will ever leave me.

For those who might be interested, Vietnam...Can’t get you out of my mind, can be purchased online from Ridenbaugh Press or from Amazon. My wife, Kelly, and I are planning a joint speaking and book-signing tour to various locations around the state this fall. She has just published a new novel, Bloodline and Wine, and we will be making stops at a number of Idaho cities to discuss both books.
 

Step up to protect elections

jones

The Senate Intelligence Committee released a bi-partisan report on July 25 that should curl the hair of every patriotic American. The Committee, chaired by Senator Burr, a North Carolina Republican, determined that Russia targeted the election systems of every one of our 50 states in the 2016 presidential election.

The Committee report documented “an unprecedented level of activity against state election infrastructure.” The report reinforced dire warnings from the U.S. intelligence community, the FBI Director, and Special Counsel Robert Mueller that the Russians are presently gearing up for an attack on our 2020 elections.

Mueller testified on July 24 that many more “countries are developing capacity to replicate what the Russians have done.” Those other countries have obviously noticed that our President does not take Russian interference seriously and has done little to defend against it. During the June G-20 meeting, Trump and Putin shared a chuckle about Russia’s 2016 assault upon our elections. It is not a joking matter.

The Iranians, who are not too keen on our President, have taken a page from the Russian playbook and are spreading anti-Trump tweets. The Chinese, who have substantial cyber capabilities, will likely join in to work against the President in next year’s elections. It may be a WrestleMania-style election unless Congress takes decisive action to stop the foreign intermeddlers.

The House passed a couple of bills at the end of June to do just that. One bill required backup paper ballots and authorized $600 million to assist states in preventing penetration of their voting systems. The other bill required candidates and their campaign officials to tell the FBI if foreign governments offer them campaign assistance.

Incomprehensibly, Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell sandbagged both bills on July 25, just as the Senate Intelligence Committee was issuing its hair-raising report. It is incredible that McConnell regards election security as a partisan issue. If the Iranians and Chinese outdo the Russian effort next year, he may have second thoughts.

Just because McConnell’s party benefited from the last election attack does not mean that it will turn out that way again next year. If foreign governments believe they will suffer no consequences from trying to influence America’s elections, more of them will join the melee. McConnell may well be unhappy with the outcome of a free-for-all election.

The U.S. should immediately go about the business of hardening its election infrastructure. Many states need additional federal dollars to get the job done and Congress needs to make those funds available. We need to have voting systems that are not connected to the internet. There need to be backup paper ballots. With the systematic and pervasive Russian interference that took place in 2016 and the prospect of more sophisticated and intensive efforts from additional malign actors next year, dramatic Congressional action is essential!

Senators Risch and Crapo seem to be mere spectators in this drama. They need to put on their big boy pants and publicly demand that McConnell bring the election-protection legislation to the Senate floor for a vote. And, they need to support legislation that will visit severe consequences on Russia and every other foreign government that dares to meddle in our election process. The integrity of our form of government is at stake.
 

Interfering in family care

jones

Dee Childers and her two sisters love their Dad and want to make sure he has the best care possible. As he descended into dementia, needing more intensive care, they became his legal guardians and found a good quality residential facility where he could live out his final years in safety and dignity.

The sisters wanted to be able to check in on Dad when they could not be present in person to make sure that all was going well. And, although they trusted the people at the facility, they thought it wise to ensure that his care was up to standards. So, they decided to install a Dad Cam in his room, which they could access with their tablets whenever they wished--much like the cameras that are popular with parents to monitor their kids.

They, of course, notified the facility and were given the green light to install the monitor. It had to be a touchy decision for the facility because it might be opening itself up to liability in the event an employee failed to act appropriately and was recorded doing so on camera. To its credit, the facility agreed to the arrangement, despite this potential downside.

The sisters thought it would be a good idea for the facility to have access to the Dad Cam, because Dad liked to have his door closed, making it more difficult for staff to peek in frequently to make sure that all was well. They gave the facility a tablet and asked that it be used to keep an eye on Dad. The sisters certainly had a legal right to make that decision on Dad’s behalf as his legal guardians.

Things were going well for Dad, the sisters and the facility until a facility visit by Idaho Department of Health and Welfare (IDHW) inspectors in early July. Upon learning of the Dad Cam, the inspectors issued a serious violation of IDHW regulations for the facility’s purported invasion of Dad’s privacy.

IDHW noted in its exit report that Dad “had a video camera in their bedroom and staff were able to view the activities of the resident via a tablet in the nursing station.” Actually, that was the precise purpose of the Dad Cam. That purpose was specifically authorized by the sisters who were appointed by a court of law as the persons to make such decisions on the part of this mentally disabled resident.

IDHW privacy regulations do not appear to specifically prohibit the use of authorized video monitors and it is not clear why that would be good public policy. With the growing incidence of elder abuse, why would it not be a good idea to have more eyes upon the manner in which dementia patients are treated in residential care facilities, especially when the facilities are specifically authorized to do so by residents or their legally appointed guardian(s)?

IDHW responds that the facility has a policy saying it does not use security cameras in residents’ rooms and that Dad’s privacy is jeopardized because the tablet at the nursing station can be seen by other residents and visitors. Yet, the sisters gave the facility a tablet and specifically requested that it be used to keep an eye on Dad. They have the legal authority to make that call on Dad’s behalf. They dispute that the Dad Cam compromises Dad’s privacy.

If this facility is punished for the use of the Dad Cam, the sisters will also be punished by losing a monitoring tool that gave them additional comfort their Dad was receiving the best care possible. It is not clear who wins in this situation. Perhaps this is one of those rules that the Governor’s office should scrutinize for governmental overreach.
 

What Trump has delivered

jones

Although President Trump has been criticized for his job performance, he’s done some of what he promised to do. However, that is not necessarily a good thing.

On the positive side, Trump promised time and again that he was going to drain the swamp in Washington. He has certainly delivered, although his method has been somewhat unorthodox. Rather than taking direct aim at the swamp dwellers, he has lured many of them into his government, let them demonstrate their unsavory character and then banished them from the swamp when they turned radioactive.

A few of the swamp creatures he was able to thusly flush down the drain are General Mike Flynn, Paul Manafort and Rick Gates, all of whom were more loyal to their pocketbooks than to this country; Ryan Zinke, Tom Price and Scott Pruitt, all of whom enjoyed using public funds for personal benefit; Bill Shine and Rob Porter, both of whom mistreated women; Steve Bannon, a white nationalism fancier; potty-mouth Antony Scaramucci; immigrant bullies Jeff Sessions and John Kelly; and sexual predator coddler Alexander Acosta.

So, there has been good progress on the swamp-cleansing promise. On the other hand, delivering on the promise to repeal the Affordable Care Act has been more problematic. Despite trying every strategy available to weaken the ACA and drive up its cost, there has been only limited success on this front.

The President fell one vote short of killing the ACA, which would have taken health care coverage away from millions of Americans and done away with the protection it provides to people with pre-existing medical conditions. The President correctly blames that heroic figure, John McCain, for frustrating his plans to create chaos in the health care system.

The courts have also been an obstacle to elimination of the ACA. The Supreme Court saved it twice and a federal appeals court has just blocked a Trump rule that would have allowed employers to deny birth control coverage to their workers. Nevertheless, Trump is still working in court to destroy the ACA. We don’t know what might happen if he succeeds because he has yet to unveil the “beautiful” replacement plan he has been promising for the last three years.

Trump has worked hard to keep America white and has become the hero of white nationalists at home and abroad. He gave a nice shout-out to those “very fine people” in Charlottesville who were carrying tiki torches and yelling, “Jews will not replace us.” Those groups have found a favorable atmosphere under his watch.

More recently, Trump has tweeted that Congresswomen of color should go back to the “crime infested places from which they came.” His Tweet went a bit awry because three of his four targets were born in the U.S.

Some people saw this outburst as evidence of racism. Senator Lindsey Graham called the President a “race-baiting, xenophobic religious bigot,” but I’m not sure that counts because it was before Graham underwent bigot conversion therapy. The husband of White House Counselor Kellyanne Conway flat stated in a July 15 op-ed that “Trump is a racist president.”

The President sent a defensive tweet, claiming he did not “have a Racist bone” in his body. It is hard to judge his bone structure, though, because we still don’t know what happened to those bone spurs that kept him home from Vietnam.

On the negative side, Trump recently suffered a defeat by failing to get a citizenship question on the census. Had his entire administration not lied about why it really wanted the question, he might have won that fight. Honesty is the best policy.

Even when he loses on an issue, Trump rarely backs down. If his dogged effort to kill the ACA succeeds, I expect he will be appropriately rewarded at the polls in November of 2020.