Aside from the myriad other stories swirling this morning, we have a report that captures not just the sorry but ridiculous state in which the country now finds itself. According to the Post, the White House is considering a plan, which, depending on one’s generosity and willingness to squint, ranges from federalizing homeless policy in California to setting up internment camps for the homeless in the state.
What seems clear is that the officials working on the project don’t really know which it is themselves. That probably stems from two reasons: First, the people working on it don’t have any experience with homelessness issues — either from a social services or punitive viewpoint. The other is that the impetus for the plan is President Trump’s impulses, which in this case seem to be a generalized rage at homeless people and a desire to swoop in and show he can do better than the Democrats, who in his mind govern the urban “shitholes” where people don’t vote for him.
Officials who spoke to the Post claim internment isn’t on their agenda. “We’re not rounding people up or anything yet. You guys in the media get too ahead of yourselves.” But the denials tend to confirm rather than dispel that idea. The planning — which appears to focus on inspecting an unused FAA facility that could be used to house the state’s homeless population — suggests otherwise.
What gets secondary coverage in the Post article is that the federal government has no role in any of this. It’s not clear what constitutional basis the Trump administration could use to claim to the contrary. The federal government can’t come into a city and force people off the streets and into detention facilities. And yet, here we are.
This is, I suspect, part of a larger ‘pivot,’ which I’ll return to in another post later today.