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Terry H. Schwadron

Aug. 16, 2019

Perhaps it is time for a periodic look at who should win our Golden Screw award for outrageous public behavior as Jerk of Our Times, and makers of statements that pass by unless we force ourselves to actually consider them.

You know, this is the kind of behavior we hear and say: What a Jerk!

Because he could walk away with the prize every time, we’re exempting Donald Trump from consideration. His continued lies, misdirections, insults and general hated for anyone not an official member of his personal fan club make him too easy a target.

Actually, Trump’s act in calling up Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and demanding that Israel bar two congresswomen of Muslim descent from visiting that country is just the sort of jerky thing this president can and does do — and so often when he disagrees with someone. It was egregious enough (an odd, since there are Arabs in the Israeli Knesset itself) to intervene to block two political/cultural foes from entering Israel that even House Republican Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy joined Democrats in opposition. After all, the Congress is meant to house people who debate the issues — you don’t just extinguish the voices with which you disagree.

Nevertheless, we’re awash in candidates this cycle:

· Rep. Steve King, R-IA, a past subject for Congressional derision for support of white supremacist ideologies, topped himself by wondering aloud to supporters that humanity might not exist if not for rape and incest, apparently in support of exempting such conditions from anti-abortion legislation. “What if we went back through all the family trees and just pulled those people out that were products of rape and incest? Would there be any population of the world left if we did that?” he said. “Considering all the wars and all the rapes and pillages taken place and whatever happened to culture after society? I know I can’t certify that I’m not a part of a product of that.” While there was plenty of derision for King, and talk about forced resignation, he never really did explain why he believes as he does.

· Robert Cuccinelli, head of the Immigration and Citizenship agency, found himself in increasingly deep waters pursuing mean policies about immigrants, to the point at which he basically wanted to rewrite the Emma Goldman poem on the Statue of Liberty. The “wretched and poor” she referenced, he said, were white and European, not from Latin America, Asia or Africa. All this in defense of a policy to use any instance of an immigrant taking advantage of public benefit programs against the individual’s application for permanent residency green card status.

· Robert Foster,Republican candidate for governor in Mississippi, declined to allow access to for a 15-hour campaign ride-along to Larrison Campbell, a reporter for Mississippi Today unless she brought along a male colleague. He said he had signed on to the “Billy Graham rule,” which, in his words meant avoiding any situation that may evoke suspicion or compromise of his marriage — much along the lines of Vice President Mike Pence, who tries not to be alone with a woman not his wife. Foster is among three Republicans and eight Democrats in the race. Mississippi Today is publishing such “shadow coverage” about the other Republican candidates, and this campaign welcomed Campbell, but asked her to bring along a male colleague. Campbell asked her editor about it, who declined, citing the obvious sexism, and in the O Henry irony twist, told The Washington Post that she is openly gay. Nevertheless, Foster contends that he is being wrongly criticized for his Christian outlook, and the campaign truck is his to set rules.

· U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue is author of a move that would cut an estimated 3 million people from getting food stamps by tightening the eligibility rules for the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP). Perdue said the changes aimed to end automatic eligibility based on an individual’s enrollment in other federal and state assistance programs and would mean annual savings of $2.5 billion while ensuring assistance is reserved for those who truly need it. Currently, 40 million low-income people, 12% of the population, in 43 states are eligible for SNAP benefits if they are within 130% of the declared poverty line, currently $32,500 for a family of four. This change focuses on those who have been added to a temporary program, to keep them from automatically passing as eligible for the more permanent benefit. Purdue did not say how much it would cost to review the 3 million cross-over candidates or why we would want people to go hungry.

· Atty. Gen. William P. Barr, who could be nominated for a series of anti-social actions, reversed a 2018 immigration board ruling that found that a migrant whose immediate family member was persecuted in their home country may be able to claim asylum.The order is yet another hit to the United States’ asylum laws. Barr effectively tightened a measure in the Immigration and Nationality Act that states a migrant can be granted asylum if they show they have been or will be persecuted because of “race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion.” Even if true, that doesn’t make the individual in the family eligible, Barr found. There is no requirement for Empathy to be named attorney general.

This is one contest with no winners ever.


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Journalist, musician, community volunteer

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