As the impeachment investigation widens, the Noise is “Biden, Biden, Biden.” The Signal, of course, is that the president, the Justice Department, the State Department, the vice president, and the Energy secretary are up to their ears in illegal activities and in the manipulation of US foreign policy to undermine the president’s political opponents and serve his personal political needs.
But since politics outside the impeachment inquiry hasn’t ground to a halt, let’s look at other Signals from recent days.
Late Friday evening, the administration announced, with no forewarning, an extraordinary rewriting of immigration policy via presidential “proclamation.” It will ban immigrants who cannot prove that they either have health insurance lined up or can afford to privately purchase it upon arriving in the States. This will have the effect of barring all but the wealthiest immigrants from entry, and of opening up huge new populations for the deportation machines. And it has occurred with absolutely zero congressional input. It is, quite simply, a vast policy rewrite by executive fiat.
That came the same week that initial hearings were heard in California and Washington state on the first two of at least eight lawsuits challenging Trump’s new “public charge” rules, which allow for the deportation of any immigrant who uses pretty much any public services, including health care systems like Medicaid.
The administration is now throwing everything including the kitchen sink into its effort to lock down America, apparently in the belief that even if the public charge change is stymied by the courts, the new rules requiring health insurance—proclaimed under the same “national security” considerations used to justify the notorious Muslim ban—will ultimately be upheld by the Supreme Court. After all, a court majority found that the Muslim ban is constitutional and that the president has almost unlimited discretion in how he applies national security considerations regarding immigration. That terrain is, they wrote, “squarely within the scope of Presidential authority.”
The tsunami of change isn’t limited to immigration.
Daily, it seems, assaults on environmental protections intensify. Last week, for example, the Bureau of Land Management ended a five-year moratorium on oil and gas drilling on California’s Central Coast, opening up more than 700,000 acres of land to the fossil fuel industry.
At the same time, the move toward ultra-conservative policies on sex and public health continues to pick up steam. The Obria Medical Clinic recently received $1.7 million in federal Title X funding to tackle STDs. Obra pushes abstinence on its patients rather than encourage use of condoms.
On a related note, the Supreme Court has agreed to hear arguments on Louisiana’s anti-abortion law requiring doctors who perform abortions to be accredited by local hospitals. It is the first of what is likely to be a rash of cases the court will hear as conservatives at the state level continue to gut Roe v. Wade. If the court rules in favor of Louisiana’s law, abortion will in effect be regulated out of existence in many conservative states.
It’s easy to get so wrapped up in the impeachment drama that everything else gets lost in the mix. But pay attention. On a multitude of fronts, the country is being restructured for the worse in front of our eyes.