Some days you don't know whether to laugh or cry. Today is such a day.
This morning, the New York Times is reporting about Orrin Hatch and influence peddling in a large front page story.
But the release of a music producer from a Dubai jail this week, quick on the heels of his conviction for drug possession, turns out to be a story of high-level string-pulling on the part of Mr. Hatch, the conservative Utah Republican and songwriter, along with Lionel Richie, the singer; Quincy Jones, the music entrepreneur; and an array of well-connected lawyers, businessmen and others, spanning cities and continents.
. . .Senator Hatch made numerous phone calls on Mr. Austin's behalf to the ambassador and consul of the United Arab Emirates embassy in Washington -- Dubai is one of the seven emirates -- and served as an intermediary for Mr. Austin's representatives, the producer's lawyers said.
"The senator was one of a number of people who were very actively involved," said Joe Reeder, the Washington lawyer, who, with an Atlanta colleague, Joel A. Katz, spent 10 days in Dubai working to secure Mr. Austin's reprieve.
Orrin doesn't want to talk, can you blame him?
The senator declined to be interviewed or to confirm details of his efforts on Mr. Austin's behalf, but he issued a statement acknowledging his involvement and said he was asked by Mr. Austin's lawyers to help.
If you have a stong stomach, you can read the entire sordid tale of Orrin Hatch at the link provided.
Republicans like Orrin Hatch help their friends while taking aim at you, me and yes, our children.
Earlier this week I wrote about what the Republicans are calling the SOS Bill. This crude misnomer is Republican-speak for the Stop Over Spending Bill.
This legislation sponsored by Orrin's friends Judd Gregg and Bill Frist would make far reaching changes in budget rules and would aim a budget knife at domestic programs while shielding tax cuts from fiscal discipline.
Let's understand who is being targeted--again. Don't shield your eyes, this has become our American reality.
Medicare D took aim at seniors.
S3521 unleashes a round of Republican missles at all of us including children. Yes, children.
S. 3521 would force automatic cuts to Medicaid, Medicare, and SCHIP and give Congress and the President new tools for reducing or realigning Medicaid and most other federal programs.
Do all of you know what SCHIP is? Let me remind you. SCHIP was enacted in 1997 and currently provides health care coverage to approximately 4.3 million children.
This is what I wrote about this depravity earlier this week. The SOS Bill: Another depraved happy face Republican assault on you & me You can read it here if you'd like.
But the SOS bill isn't enough for these cowards.
Let's take a quick look at the newest Republican cause du jour. Immigration. Here too, they're targeting children.
Children removed from their homes because of neglect or abuse and placed in foster care may face delays in getting medical care because of the manner in which the federal government is implementing a provision of the Deficit Reduction Act (DRA) of 2005. The DRA requires that all U.S. citizens applying for, or renewing their eligibility for, Medicaid coverage document their citizenship, starting July 1. Interim final regulations on the requirement, issued by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services on July 6, present difficult and unnecessary problems for children in foster care and for the state agencies responsible for their well being.
Would you please wrap your mind around this for a moment. They're not content with brutalizing seniors. Now they're coming for our precious children.
There are over 500,000 children in foster care. Now CMS (Center for Medicare and Medicaid) regulations will make enrolling these children in Medicaid much more onerous.
Nearly all children in foster care are enrolled in Medicaid, although the basis for their eligibility varies from child to child. Under federal law, all children on whose behalf Title IV-E federal foster care payments are made are eligible for Medicaid.
. . .To obtain documentation of citizenship for every child entering foster care will be especially difficult because of the instability of the foster care caseload. The caseload turns over to a significant degree each year. For example, in 2004, 304,000 children entered foster care, while 283,000 were discharged. Child welfare and Medicaid agencies will need to devote a significant amount of their increasingly scarce administrative resources to fulfilling the requirements of the new regulations.
None of this is by accident. It's deliberate. It's by design. This is why it is so appalling, so naseating.
The interim final regulations issued on July 6 require that state Medicaid agencies obtain documents showing that citizen children in foster care are indeed citizens. The new requirement applies both to children receiving Title IV-E federal foster care payments and to foster-care children who are not receiving these payments. The guidance also restricts the type of documents that are acceptable.
. . .An abused or neglected child, removed from the home and taken into state custody, does not typically come into foster care with a certified or original birth certificate or passport. Most children are placed in foster care because of abuse or neglect occurring within the context of extreme poverty, homelessness, mental illness, parental substance abuse, or human immunodeficiency virus infection. As a result, families may not have, or may not be willing to relinquish, documentary evidence on their children. The emergency nature of these removals requires that state agencies subsequently work with birth parents and use electronic sources, such as electronic birth records, to establish a complete case file on the child.
. . .An often-cited GAO report notes that children in foster care, as group, are "sicker than homeless children or children living in the poorest sections of inner cities." Even a brief gap between entry into foster care and Medicaid eligibility could have serious consequences. Yet significant gaps are likely as states attempt to fulfill the requirements in the DRA as interpreted in the new regulations.
Republicans are cowards, my friends. They send other people's children to fight in Iraq and they target the most vulnerable--children.
Who will speak for the children if we don't? Certainly not Orrin Hatch, Judd Gregg, George Bush, Bill Frist or our Republican government.