Sunday, July 21, 2019

How child protective services can trap the parents they’re supposed to help

  I woke to the sound of my 3-year-old daughter crying. It was a hard, bitter cry. If you have young children, you know the one — it punches through the walls and triggers your heart into a frenzy. I sprang up, ready to run to her bedside. But as wakefulness returned, the sound faded. My daughter was not crying for me. She wasn’t even there. She and her 4-year-old sister were taken from my custody more than a year earlier by the State of Florida.

Saturday, July 20, 2019

Attack on the ACA: Undermining protections for LGBTQ patients and language accessibility requirements

  The Trump administration is proposing to undermine strong and clear protections against discrimination in health care by giving health care providers, pharmacy benefit managers, and insurers a license to discriminate against LGBTQ people and many others. The existing rule implementing Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), also known as the Health Care Rights Law, was promulgated by the Obama administration in 2016 after a rigorous six-year process. The rule characterized discrimination based on sex stereotyping and gender identity as impermissible sex discrimination under the law. It also prohibited insurance providers using the marketplace from discriminating against protected characteristics, provided strong language access and notice requirements, and established many other critical patient protections.

Friday, July 19, 2019

America, love it or leave it!

  President Trump’s rant against four members of Congress, all of whom are American citizens, in which he told them to return to their “crime-infested” countries, brings to mind the rant that conservatives have long used against anyone who disagrees with the policies or programs of the U.S. government: “America, love it or leave it!”

  Anyone who lived during the Vietnam War era will recall that this was a favorite refrain of conservatives against anyone who opposed the war. The opponents of the war were accused of hating America and were often told that since they obviously didn’t love their country, they should move to North Vietnam or some other communist country.

Thursday, July 18, 2019

Like Chilton County’s peach trees, Alabama’s occupational license laws need regular pruning

  Motorists who travel I-65 between Birmingham and Montgomery during summertime often enjoy the tradition of stopping in Clanton for a freshly-picked basket of Chilton County’s famous peaches.

  There’s something special about that part of Alabama, a Goldilocks zone that produces those thick, juicy, tasty treats. Not too cold. Not too hot. Just right. Well, that and an awful lot of pruning.

  Thing is, peach trees need to be cut back annually so that they can continually produce the best and most fruit. A snip here. A lop there. Just planting them and walking away isn’t enough.

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

How Medicaid cuts almost forced a disabled student to drop out

  Anna Landre is by every measure a highly successful student. The Georgetown University School of Foreign Service student and high school valedictorian has maintained a 3.9 GPA as a Regional and Comparative Studies major since she left her New Jersey hometown two years ago. She has also served as an Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner representing the city of Georgetown and surrounding neighborhoods with policy recommendations for the District of Columbia’s government.

  Like nearly 20 percent of American college students, Landre is disabled. And because Landre has spinal muscular atrophy type 2 and uses a wheelchair, her success is possible in part due to Medicaid-funded personal care assistance. The hours of personal care she receives at home allow Landre to live and study independently, while attendants help her complete crucial daily tasks related to hygiene, eating, and safety. But just a few weeks ago, her insurance company’s decision to cut her care hours from 112 hours per week to 70 nearly brought her college career to an end.

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Americans should adopt unilateral free trade

  Given the ongoing destruction of liberty and prosperity from President Trump’s trade wars, tariffs, sanctions, and embargoes, it’s time to think at a higher level, one that goes beyond mere criticism of Trump’s trade antics. It’s time to think in terms of individual liberty, free markets, and limited government, all of which translates to the idea of unilateral free trade.

  What does unilateral free trade mean? It means that the U.S. government should simply lift, dismantle, abolish, repeal, and end all of its tariffs, trade restrictions, sanctions, embargoes, import quotas, and trade wars. No meetings. No negotiations. No demands. No “free trade” agreements. Just free the American people to travel wherever they want and trade with whomever they want.

Monday, July 15, 2019

We once went “MAD” for the magazine — and it was fun and funny

  The world is soon going to be a little bit less MAD — and the poorer for it.

  The quintessential baby boomer-era satire mag, MAD magazine has announced it will soon contain only re-published content, on a monthly basis — industry-speak for trying to garner what nostalgia-tinged profits might still be obtained from those who recall better days.

Sunday, July 14, 2019

The Declaration of Independence applies to immigrants

  Now that the Fourth of July celebrations are over, it’s worth asking whether a particular phrase enunciated in the Declaration of Independence is true or false.

  The phrase in question? “The pursuit of happiness.” The Declaration states that the pursuit of happiness is a natural, God-given right, one with which all people are endowed. Not just American citizens. Everyone. Everyone in the world is endowed with the natural, God-given right to pursue happiness.

Saturday, July 13, 2019

Hank Sanders: Sketches #1674 - History either lifts us or holds us down

  I am still in my "power of history" moment. July 4th gives me a unique opportunity to explore the power of history. History either lifts us or weighs us down. When history weighs us down, everything is more difficult. When history lifts us up, everything is easier. When history lifts us, we see further, reach higher, and go farther. When history weighs us down, we cannot reach as high or see further, or go as far. History is about our past but, more importantly, our present and our future. History either lifts us or holds us down.

Friday, July 12, 2019

The Bernhardt Doctrine: Dismissing rules and dodging oversight

  U.S. Secretary of the Interior David Bernhardt is hard to put a finger on. Attempts to understand what he’s doing or who he’s meeting with through Freedom of Information Act requests have yielded surprisingly few documents and sparse calendars. Bernhardt has granted relatively few—or brief, if at all—on-the-record interviews with reporters. He has also largely avoided testifying in front of Congress before May of this year.

  Despite this opaqueness, a picture of Bernhardt’s approach to governance is starting to emerge—one of a former oil and gas lobbyist pushing a destructive anti-conservation agenda with a flagrant disregard for the coequal branches of U.S. government. The U.S. Department of the Interior’s (DOI) Bernhardt era—his time as deputy secretary and now secretary—is marked by actions that consistently ignore Congress and the rule of law. While the courts have begun to provide a check on Bernhardt’s approach, he continues to both circumvent public input and accountability and undermine Congress’ oversight role.