Court: Welcoming Cities Trump Sessions’s Power Grab

Remember when Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced that cities must turn undocumented residents in their custody over to federal immigration authorities  or lose their federal grants? The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit ruled on April 19, 2018 that Attorney General Jess Sessions had no authority to do that. The court held that the statutes governing the federal grant that Chicago sought did not give the Attorney General the power to impose any additional conditions. Because the Attorney General had exceeded the powers that the law gave him, the nationwide injunction against his actions was proper.

Attorney General Sessions

That’s good news for “sanctuary cities” throughout the country. Three cheers for the rule of law. Maybe our law and order AG will learn to stay within the law.

EMILY’s List Mansplains At Me

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Recently, a man claiming to be from EMILY’s List called me for a donation. I told him I had read recently that the organization had been supporting corporate Democrats, and those candidates were not my priorities.

“No,” he insisted. “We only support progressive Democratic candidates.”  He mentioned a few big name incumbents, such as Tammy Baldwin and Elizabeth Warren. I  told him I didn’t think the Democratic party was progressive and asked what he meant. Apparently, he meant pro-choice, though he referred to it vaguely as “women’s health”.  I should trust him, he said, because he supported Bernie Sanders in 2016.

When I asked, he said that they hadn’t supported Marie Newman, the Democratic woman who opposed Dan Lipinski in the Illinois Democratic primary last month. Lipinski is one of the few anti-choice Democrats in Congress. Now, that’s a race where some feminist help could have made a difference. But Emily’s List wasn’t there. That’s why I choose to give elsewhere.

The young man began to harangue me. He continued to talk over me and would not stop. When I hung up, he immediately rang back and continued talking over me as if nothing had happened. This time, I told him I was hanging up.

A Failure of Feminism?

I remember when EMILY’s List began in 1985. It was unabashedly feminist. It was needed, and it made a difference. Marie Newman was exactly the kind of candidate it would have supported, or so it seemed then. But apparently EMILY didn’t want to anger the Democratic establishment, which supported Lipinski. So much for feminism (which the young man never mentioned) and progressive politics.

I can only believe that EMILY, like the Democratic party in general, has lost her way. Since when does it sit out a race where a pro-choice woman seeks to replace an anti-choice man? And since when does  a pro-choice, supposedly feminist organization, hire a man to treat women so disrespectfully?

Daniel Biss’s Balance Between Progressive Politics and Loyalty to His People

Just a week ago, I attended Daniel Biss’s announcement of his running mate, Carlos Ramirez Rosa. It was exciting, actually. Rosa is a powerful, passionate speaker. I thought he balanced Biss’s thoughtful, soft-spoken approach rather nicely.

But on September 6, Biss announced that Rosa was no longer on the ticket. The reason? Rosa supports the boycott, disinvestment, and sanctions (BDS) campaign.  Biss said that Rosa had changed his position and moved in the direction of support for BDS. Rosa says that his position has been consistent for several years.

Biss explained that because he is a grandchild of Holocaust survivors and the son of an Israeli mother, “the safety and security of the Jewish people is deeply personal to [him].”  He cannot act counter to those values.

What is BDS?

BDS is a movement to encourage governments, financial institutions, businesses, and consumers to boycott Israeli products, divest themselves of financial interests in Israel or Israeli companies, and sanction Israel to pressure it to change its treatment of Palestinians in the occupied territories and in Israel. It began in 2005 and has been gathering support recently. The organizers modeled it on a similar movement to isolate South Africa while it maintained apartheid.

Pushback from Democrats

After Biss announced that Rosa was his running mate, Brad Schneider, who represents Illinois’ 10th Congressional district, withdrew his endorsement of Biss. Politico reported that a Republican vying for Schneider’s seat had criticized Schneider’s support for Biss because of Biss’s selection of Rosa as his running mate.

What Was the Disagreement About?

Rosa and Biss weren’t really that far apart on Middle East issues. Both support the continued existence of Israel and an independent Palestinian state. Both believe that at least some of Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians is unjust, and the injustice must be rectified. Rosa agrees that BDS is not an appropriate subject for state or local government regulation, but he thinks it is appropriate on the federal level, where Biss does not.

I imagine that Biss was getting a lot of heat from supporters and Democrats who aren’t as far to the left as Rosa. And  if he is pressured to view Rosa’s position as an attack on Israel or the Jewish people, it’s only natural that he would move to protect them. How could he not?

We Shouldn’t Have Had to Choose

Daniel Biss shouldn’t have had to choose between the progressive ideals he holds and support for his—actually, our—people.  State government has no responsibility for foreign policy. Why should the issue of the relationship between the U.S. and Israel interfere with our gubernatorial election?

Having said that, we cannot blindly support everything Israel does, no matter how unjust. It’s difficult and painful to confront the possibility that Israel acts unjustly. When Israel commits injustice, we need to oppose it just as we would here in the U.S., because as Jews,  we’re taught to pursue justice.



Navigating the Health Care Marketplace

Everyone’s arguing about the Affordable Care Act, sometimes called ObamaCare by those who oppose it. Now that my husband is getting ready to retire, I’m looking on the website for health insurance options. And it’s so much fun I thought I’d share the experience with you.


The website doesn’t make it easy to check out your choices.My husband tried to get some information and it wouldn’t let him see anything about plans available in our area until he started an application. Never mind that when he input his age it immediately would have been obvious that he doesn’t need to get insurance through the marketplace because he is eligible for Medicare.

I also found it difficult to get information. But the site wouldn’t open an account for me because I was listed on my husband’s application. Of course, nothing I saw disclosed that information. I just asked for help with setting up my account and got “We’ll send you an email with your user ID”. The email never arrived.

So I called the marketplace hotline. The good news is that they really do have pleasant, intelligent people answering our calls for help. That’s who told me about the application and the reasons I hadn’t gotten a response.  The worker took my information and estimated the amount of the subsidy for which I would qualify.

Premiums and Deductibles

I was in for a shock when the worker started telling me about the plans offered in Cook County, Illinois. Apparently there are three: Ambetter, Blue Cross, and Cigna. Each offers multiple plans. Unfortunately, I couldn’t write down the prices and features as fast as she could tell me about them. She did tell me that about premiums well under $1,000 after subsidy. Most of the deductibles ranged from $11,000 to $13,300.

I went back to the site to look more closely at the plans. The application assumed that all three of us would be on the plan even though my husband will be on Medicare. The premiums were over $1400, even as high as $2,700. Ambetter’s plans had lower deductibles, but they still had at least a $1700 premium. It’s possible that the premiums are wrong because the system included my husband among the covered household members.

Maybe we’ll get better information later after we submit documentation of the date of my husband’s retirement and our loss of coverage. Coming soon—networks and continuity of care.