April…Ah You Know

I’m too old to think of an April Fools’ Day column, so there will be no “April Fools’!” kicker about 700 words from now.

A week ago the Mueller Report was distilled into the Barr Letter which was, in turn, condensed into Pundit Clarifications, and the compressed into Expert Explanations until the whole thing collapsed in on itself like a neutron star becoming an academic black hole at the center of our political galaxy.

SIDEBAR

A black hole is defined by Britannica.com as a “cosmic body of extremely intense gravity from which nothing, not even light, can escape.”

The late physicist Steven Hawkings once postulated that information that falls into a black hole could never be retrieved. Just when we got used to saying that, Hawkings changed his mind and said that information could be retrieved but was so scrambled it could never be reassembled.

This has been described (not by me) as being “akin to determining what someone tossed into a bonfire after it has burned up.”

These theoretical physicists, what a bunch.

END SIDEBAR

This is not an April Fools’ joke:

To celebrate his apparently having been exonerated on the collusion business, Donald J. Trump immediately turned the heat up on Mexico and then on the entirety of Central America.

In the face of increasing pressure by potential immigrants coming north from Central America – legal and illegal – Trump announced “Mexico is going to have to do something, otherwise I’m closing the border.”

George Conway’s wife, Kellyanne (Counselor to the President) said on Fox, “It certainly isn’t a bluff. You can take the president seriously.”

We’ll see.

Trump also claimed that the Central American Countries of El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras have been, according to Politico.com, “setting up” migrant caravans for entry into the United States, and so Trump will cut off foreign aid to those countries.

Kevin K. McAleenan, commissioner of Customs and Border Protection, told reporters (via DailyBeast.com) that more than 76,000 migrants crossed the U.S.-Mexico border without authorization in February. Ninety percent, he said, began their trek in Guatemala.

The answer to your question is (according to Reuters): The U.S. provided about $131 million in aid to Guatemala, $98 million to Honduras, and $68 million to El Salvador in 2016, according to Reuters. That’s a total of $297 million. The Washington Post estimates the total in the 2018 budget was about $500 million plus “unspent funds from prior years.

A weekend piece in the Washington Post says “Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala are among the poorest countries in the hemisphere, and among the most violent in the world.”

A former Ambassador to Honduras, Jim Nealon, pointed out that, again from the Post:

The U.S. government doesn’t give the money to foreign governments, but rather “to programs designed and implemented by the U.S., with the cooperation of governments and civil society,” he said. Much of the aid is administered by nonprofit groups.

While he was at it, Trump’s Justice Department agreed with ruling from this past December by a Federal District Court judge in Texas, Reed O’Conner, that the entirety of Obamacare (formally known as the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act) is now Unconstitutional.

Here’s how USA Today explained it:

The judge ruled that the constitutional foundation for the law – the requirement that people buy insurance or pay a penalty – was no longer constitutional because Congress had repealed the penalty. O’Connor ruled that because that provision was so central to the health law, the whole thing had to be invalidated.

In the wake of his Justice Department’s letter, Trump declared in a Tweet that “Republicans will be the party of healthcare,” but The Hill Newspaper reported:

An NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll released earlier this month found that 56 percent of respondents see Democratic positions on health care as being “in the mainstream,” compared to only 38 percent who said the same of the Republican Party’s views on the issue.

That is not an April Fools’ joke, either.

If Donald Trump would listen to anyone (which he did not before the Barr Letter and certainly will not now) he would focus on policies the 8,319 Democratic candidates for President are pushing and begin building that case that not one of them, nor all of them, will be able to beat him on the issues next year.

No April Fools’.

On the Secret Decoder Ring today: Lots o’ links. A discussion on how to punctuate “April Fools’,” to Kellyanne Conway’s defense of Donald Trump, to an actual MAP of Central America, to the Washington Post’s piece about foreign aid, and to the Obamacare developments.

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