Saturday, June 5, 2021

May Flower: Doing the Wrong Thing

I'm starting to wonder as the views when I begin this post are 6 and 66 for the previous two posts and I feel like I'm over the target if they are screwing with my mind.

"Student loan borrowers perplexed by Biden administration’s continued defense of Trump-era lawsuits" by Danielle Douglas-Gabriel Washington Post, May 14, 2021

Amanda Kulka expected her six-year fight for student loan cancellation would be over by now.

Powerful allies, including a state attorney general and a federal judge, agreed that she and other students in Massachusetts had been defrauded by the defunct for-profit chain Corinthian Colleges. The courts even granted all 7,200 of them a full discharge of their debt in June, rebuking former education secretary Betsy DeVos’s attempt to block their request for relief.

The Trump administration appealed the decision, bringing the order to a standstill. But with the arrival of a new administration, one with a keen interest in consumer rights, Kulka believed the case would soon be over. She was wrong.

“When Biden was elected, I was like ‘Yes, here is someone who has heard about our fight, who heard about our struggles. He’ll take care of this,’” said Kulka, 33, who owes $10,000 in federal student loans for a certificate in medical administration, “but we’re still here. I want to be optimistic, but I’ve been waiting for so long.”

The Biden administration continues to defend lawsuits against the Education Department over Trump-era policies on student loans and career training regulation.

Biden’s Education Secretary Miguel Cardona has begun dismantling his predecessor’s policies. The department this week lifted a ban on colleges providing emergency grants to undocumented and international students. It has also extended student debt relief to disabled borrowers and some defrauded students, but advocacy groups are baffled as Justice Department attorneys representing the federal agency hold the line on legal positions that are out of step with Biden’s agenda.

They care about the potential voters in that they are bribing them than they do American citizens and kids who are enslaved to banks.

I gue$$ "goin' to $chool" WAS the wrong thing to do (frown).

Justice has reversed the government’s position in several high-profile cases involving the Affordable Care Act, voting rights, and sentencing since Biden took office. Federal attorneys have even dropped a Trump-era lawsuit accusing Yale University of discriminating against Asian and White applicants, yet when comes to cases involving federal student aid, consumer attorneys say the Biden administration is moving at a glacial pace.

“I’m shocked that more than 100 days in we’re still in an active appeal on something that is so opposed to what the Biden administration claims it’s about,” said Toby Merrill, director of the Project on Predatory Student Lending, a group representing borrowers in multiple Trump-era cases, including the class-action lawsuit in which Kulka is involved.

She added: “We won the case so all they have to do is follow the law. It’s incredibly frustrating to our clients who have been waiting for so long for someone to do the right thing.”

Education Department spokeswoman Kelly Leon said the agency’s “new leadership is working actively to address concerns relating to the student financial aid policies of the prior administration.” With the ongoing lawsuits filed during Trump’s term, she said the department “continues to assess the issues ... to determine whether they can be resolved without further litigation.”

Advocates question how much more time the new leadership needs before people like Kulka can move on with their lives.

The 2015 closure of Corinthian ushered in a deluge of debt relief claims at the Education Department, including one submitted on behalf of Everest students by Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey. Her group claim contained more than 2,700 pages of supporting evidence but languished at the department for years, like tens of thousands of other applications.

While the Obama administration was slow to act on the applications, the Trump administration shut down the processing of claims for months. Students are entitled to a discharge of their federal education loans if their colleges defraud them, but DeVos called the program, known as borrower defense to repayment, a “free money” giveaway.

DeVos changed the methodology for calculating relief, scrapped a 2016 update of the statute, rewrote the rules in a way that limits forgiveness, and issued blanket denials. All of those actions are at the heart of ongoing lawsuits.

Dropping some cases could be a matter of timing, as the administration prepares new rules on policies underpinning a few lawsuits.

I left the book open for you after the print ran out:

In March, the Biden administration said it will overhaul DeVos’s rewrite of the borrower defense rules, the source of lawsuits brought by state attorneys general. Biden also said on the campaign trail he would restore the gainful employment regulation, which penalizes career-training programs for producing too many graduates with more debt than they can repay.

Enrolling in the Everest Institute, one of three schools run by Corinthian, was supposed to create a career path for Kulka. She had hoped to go to college, but her son took priority after she became pregnant at age 18. Jobs braiding hair and working retail were a dead end.

Television ads for Everest, promising a short path to lucrative jobs, piqued her interest. And the campus recruiters promising to find her a job in the field won Kulka over, but after barely using any of the assigned course material, she began questioning the quality of the education.

“We opened maybe three books out of the 12 that were assigned,” Kulka said. “I felt like I was on my own and had to teach myself. They were supposed to prepare us to take a licensing exam and didn’t.”

After Kulka graduated in 2010, what she thought would be hands-on career services from Everest amounted to a few e-mails of job listings from Craigslist. They were the same listings she found on her own and not one resulted in a job. Back to braiding hair. Back to working retail, and now she had debt.

“When I signed up at Everest, it was all ‘We’re going to find your strengths and find the right job for you,’” said Kulka, who eventually found work at an insurance company through a temp agency. “In reality, all we got was an e-mail blast for listings with incorrect information.”

Kulka was not the only Everest student who was sold a bill of goods. An investigation by the Massachusetts Attorney General’s office found the school had misrepresented its programs and job placement rates since at least 2009.

The state’s top prosecutor sued Corinthian in 2014 for allegedly using deceptive marketing to lure students into taking out loans they had no hope of paying back. Similar lawsuits emerged across the country, including one led by then-California Attorney General Kamala Harris.

I would have said you kids should have got a job, but....

"Tech companies like Uber, Lyft, DoorDash, and Instacart have disrupted the US economy by creating a labor force of millions of so-called gig workers. Now Washington appears poised to disrupt the disruptors, taking the first step Wednesday in what appears to be a larger battle with industry giants to give those workers more rights. The Labor Department formally withdrew Trump administration regulationwhich never went into effect, that would have made it easier for companies to classify workers as independent contractors rather than conventional employees covered by federal laws on minimum wage and overtime. A pandemic that highlighted flaws in the gig economy and a Democratic administration focused on expanding workers’ rights have changed the regulatory outlook for the industry. There’s new momentum to force companies to treat gig workers more like employees and provide the accompanying benefits, including unemployment benefits, which the federal government stepped in to provide for gig workers during the pandemic. Progressives and workers’ rights advocates have pushed for such a seismic shift, but the companies warn it could damage a vital economic sector that provides flexibility to workers....."

Not taking on the sex trafficking, either, as they go big where it matters and push around their own reporters(?).

Can always go work for the Party, 'er, government, right?

"The federal government puts out a ‘help wanted’ notice as Biden seeks to undo Trump cuts" by Lisa Rein Washington Post, May 21, 2021

WASHINGTON —President Biden vowed during his campaign to restore faith in a federal bureaucracy his predecessor villainized as an unaccountable “deep state” — and with debate stirring in Congress on $6 trillion in spending proposed by the White House, that shift now involves persuading Americans to embrace a bigger government.


Already, the vision is colliding with the reality that even in just a single term, Trump succeeded in his goal of cleaving and disrupting the federal government.

Some programs that are crucial to Biden’s agenda are so short-staffed that his administration can’t yet fully implement his policies, among them enforcement of fair-housing and workplace safety laws. A number of decisions by the Trump administration, including the relocation of key economic research and land management offices, are proving hard to reverse.

The annual list of troubled federal programs, released in March by the Government Accountability Office, is longer than ever, a shift workforce experts attribute to vast areas of the government the Trump administration ignored. Auditors spotlighted “high-risk” areas vulnerable to waste, fraud, abuse, or mismanagement, ranging from oversight of the federal prison system to the Department of Health and Human Services’ leadership and coordination of public health emergencies.

Then there are delays that have nothing to do with Trump. Across the government, departments are waiting for money from the yet-to-be-negotiated federal budget to fill vacancies.

The two agencies expected to drive the rebuilding effort, the Office of Personnel Management and White House budget office, are missing top leaders, with no Senate action yet on the personnel nominee, Kiran Ahuja, and no nominee for the Office of Management and Budget. Biden’s first choice to lead the budget office, Neera Tanden, withdrew from consideration in March.

The personnel agency, whose profile the president is expected to elevate after a revolving door of permanent and acting leaders under Trump, is confronting major vacancies after his administration installed a slew of political appointees, now departed, to fill roles normally reserved for career employees.

“The short-term tactical issues are huge,” said Donald Kettl, a public affairs professor at the University of Texas at Austin who specializes in the federal government.

Long-standing challenges largely ignored during the Trump era are further complicating the attempt to rebuild the federal government, according to veterans of the bureaucracy. The federal pay and benefits system hasn’t changed since the 1970s, making the private sector more competitive for hard-to-fill jobs. The system fails to adequately assess talent, those veterans say, with a computerized, multiple-choice self-assessment that doesn’t always advance the best candidates to the list of job finalists.

You mean fill up the $wamp that he didn't drain?

Despite Trump’s pledge to ”cut so much your head will spin,” the largest government departments — Defense, Veterans Affairs, and Homeland Security — grew during his presidency, leaving the bureaucracy 3.4 percent larger overall than when he became president, according to an analysis of federal personnel data by the Washington Post. That compares with 3.6 percent growth in President Barack Obama’s first term and 1.3 percent in his second, the data shows, but that masked a plunge in staffing in a majority of Cabinet agencies Biden inherited, prompted by Trump reshaping the permanent workforce in a contraction long sought by conservatives.

Homeland Security grew by 6.9 percent, VA by 13 percent, and the Commerce Department by 0.2 percent, for example, while Labor fell 11.8 percent, Education 5.9 percent, and State 5.5 percent.

As Trump rolled back regulations and aimed for a smaller, more targeted footprint, the government shed jobs in regulation, enforcement, civil rights, worker safety, and other areas. The number of mine inspectors dropped 22 percent by December 2020 from four years earlier; Internal Revenue Service officers who collect delinquent taxes fell by 19.6 percent; soil scientists tumbled 16.3 percent; and public health educators were cut by 28.6 percent.

In a $1.8 trillion Biden administration spending plan separate from its preliminary budget and covering domestic priorities, the IRS would get an extra $80 billion to revive enforcement against wealthy tax cheats, whom Biden has vowed to target. The enforcement staff would grow by 15 percent each year over a decade.

The tax agency, with a full-time staff of 73,554 in fiscal 2019, has lost 20,000 employees since 2010, a third of them in the enforcement division, as a result of Republican-led budget cuts, agency data shows.....

They $ure look like money-grabbing communi$ts.

Meanwhile, down at Mar-a-Lago:

"Former presidents get Secret Service protection for life, but last year the Washington Post spoke to historians and representatives for recent presidents, and could not find another example of a president charging the Secret Service rent on this scale. The closest parallel to Trump was the man who succeeded him: Joe Biden. While he was protected as vice president, Biden charged the Secret Service $2,200 per month to use a cottage on his property in Delaware. In total, Biden received $171,600 between 2011 and 2017. Biden has not charged the Secret Service rent since becoming president in January, a White House spokesman said. Historians said they were surprised Trump was still charging the Secret Service, considering that ex-presidents are entitled to an array of other taxpayer-funded benefits, including paid staff and a $219,000-per-year pension. Trump, by his own account, is a billionaire. On his personal blog this week, he celebrated the $1.2 billion refinancing of a San Francisco office building in which Trump’s company owns a 30 percent share. That deal could bring Trump’s company a massive payout. “It’s tacky,” Jeffrey A. Engel, the director of the Center for Presidential History at Southern Methodist University, said of Trump’s new charges. “Just because you can make a buck doesn’t mean you should make a buck, and especially when you have a situation where you’re an ex-president. You’re not going to starve.”

Only NOW are the charges, ultimately paid by taxpayers, an i$$ue as the shameless and insulting hubris and hypocrisy comes $pewing out.


Can't even count on business to do the right thing these days:

"Forget backstage passes or VIP bracelets. Vaccination cards are the new ticket" by Jennifer Steinhauer New York Times, May 14, 2021

At Fort Bragg, soldiers who have gotten their coronavirus vaccines can go to a gym where no masks are required, with no limits on who can work out together. Treadmills are on and zipping, unlike those in 13 other gyms where unvaccinated troops can’t use the machines, everyone must mask up, and restrictions remain on how many can bench-press at one time.

Inside Dodgers Stadium in Los Angeles, where lines not long ago snaked for miles with people seeking coronavirus vaccines, a special seating area allows those who are fully inoculated to enjoy games side-by-side with other fans.

When Bill Dugan reopens Madam’s Organ, his legendary blues bar in Washington, D.C., people will not be allowed in to work, drink, or play music unless they can prove they have had their shots. “I have a saxophone player who is among the best in the world. He was in the other day, and I said, ‘Walter, take a good look around because you’re not walking in here again unless you get vaccinated.’”

Evite and Paperless Post are seeing a big increase in hosts requesting that their guests be vaccinated.

As the United States nudges against the soft ceiling of those who will willingly take the vaccine, governments, businesses, and schools have been extending carrots — actually doughnuts, beers, and cheesecake — to prod laggards along. Some have even offered cold hard cash: In Ohio, Governor Mike DeWine this week went so far as to say that the state would give five vaccinated people $1 million each as part of a weekly lottery program.

I remember a story from childhood regarding a princess and the drawing of a rock, and this kind of coercion is so un$eemly it can only backfire.

On Thursday, federal health officials offered the ultimate incentive for many when they advised that fully vaccinated Americans may stop wearing masks.

You don't need that incentive to stop wearing the ineffective and harmful masks.

Now, private employers, restaurants, and entertainment venues are looking for ways to make those who are vaccinated feel like VIPs, both to protect workers and guests, and to possibly entice those not yet on board.

Come summer, the nation may become increasingly bifurcated between those who are permitted to watch sports, take classes, get their hair cut, and eat barbecue with others, and those who are left behind the spike protein curtain.

Access and privilege among the vaccinated may rule for the near future, in public and private spaces.

Check your damn privilege then -- along with the cryptic language!

At least the lawyers will be busy with discrimination lawsuits, right?

“The bottom line is this interesting question of the conception of our society,” said Dr. Tom Frieden, a former head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the architect of a smoking ban and a tuberculosis control program in New York City, both of which included forms of mandates. “Are we in some important way connected or not?”

A vaccine requirement to attend school or participate in the military is not a novel concept, but because the three COVID vaccines offered in the United States have yet to receive full approvals by the Food and Drug Administration, the military has declined to insist on inoculation. For their part, public school districts cannot consider mandates until the vaccines are available to most children. The FDA just granted emergency use authorization to Pfizer this week for children ages 12 to 15, but even without a mandate, a nudge can feel like a shove. The military has been strongly encouraging vaccines among the troops. Acceptance has been low in some branches, like the Marines, with only 40 percent having gotten one or more shots. At Fort Bragg, one of the largest military installations in the country and among the first to offer the vaccine, just under 70 percent have been vaccinated.

Or a poke or a jab for something that is against the Nuremberg Code even if it is approved. They still would need informed consent according to international and human rights law.

Oddly enough, the web article kept on plunging:

A podcast designed to knock down misinformation — a common misbelief is that the vaccines affect fertility — plays around the base. In addition to their freedom gym, vaccinated soldiers may now eat in groups as they please, while the unvaccinated look on as they grab their grub and go. With soldiers, experts “talk up to decliners versus talk down,” said Colonel Joseph Buccino, a spokesman at Fort Bragg.

Still, holdouts pose obstacles. For a recent mission to Europe, a handful of unvaccinated troops had to be replaced with those who had gotten shots, because of quarantine rules in countries there. “What we need to do is restore readiness,” Buccino said.

Segregating the unvaccinated and limiting access to gyms and dining areas were not measures aimed specifically at getting soldiers vaccinated, he said, “but there is an enticement.”

The private sector, sometimes with the encouragement of government, is also trying to make life a bit nicer for the vaccinated, emphasizing the privileges — rather than perceived infringements on freedom — bestowed by the protection of the vaccines.

The tyranny that is palpable is only your perception, folks.

The insults aren't helping the sales job that is doomed to failure, sorry.

If much of the military isn't on board, how will they stick everyone in camps and jab them?

It’s baseball season, and fans have clamored to get back to normal, to a place where the wave used to mean something other than the next surge of the coronavirus. Major League Baseball is heavily promoting inoculations, and stadiums have become a new line of demarcation, where vaccinated sections are highlighted as perks akin to VIP skyboxes.

They can have them because I never want to attend a sporting event ever again, and they certainly did a quick 180 back to the base as far as letting crowds in two weeks later, 'eh?

The crowds mushroomed like a flower in May!

The Bayou, a restaurant in Salt Lake City, will open its doors only to those who have had their shots, according to Mark Alston, one of the owners.

“It was entirely driven by the fact that I work at the Bayou seven days a week,” he said. “I do not work from a comfy office and send staff off to work in unsafe conditions, but work there alongside them.”

The “vaxxed-only” policy has flooded his voicemail with rancorous messages. “One in particular accuses us of running some kind of pedophile beer cult,” he said. “It’s a bit unhinged.”

What a circus this has become, with you jumping through hoops!


"White House teams up with dating apps to offer perks to vaccinated users The White House has enlisted major dating apps to encourage single Americans — who may be hitting up the dating scene again this summer after a year of social isolation — to get vaccinated. The move is part of a larger push by the administration to reach its goal of having 70 percent of the adult population get at least one coronavirus vaccine dose by July 4. Apps like Tinder, Hinge, Match, and OkCupid will allow users to add stickers or badges to their profiles to let potential matches know they’ve been vaccinated. In some cases, vaccinated users can limit their searches to other vaccinated singles. Some apps are adding incentives by giving vaccinated users free access to premium content. While dating apps are used by people of all ages, their prime audience are young adults, who also happen to be the cohort least likely to prioritize getting vaccinated."

So who is going to pick up the check as they kick you around?

May God go with you through the attacks and fire and see you on the other side, God willing.