Why Muslim Travel Ban Continues To Make Headlines

FiveThirtyEight spells out the reasons.    I have stressed on this blog the American values that are undermined by this matter and the lack of competence exhibited by the White House.

One reason the travel ban has stayed in the headlines is that it involves at least three storylines. The first is the policy itself, which tapped into many Americans’ deep-seated fear of terrorism while, opponents argue, running counter to fundamental principles of religious freedom and the American identity as a nation of immigrants. Unlike many of Trump’s other early-term policy announcements, the travel ban also had immediate human consequences; by Saturday, media outlets were full of heart-wrenching stories about refugees and other travelers who were denied entry to the U.S.

The second storyline is one we’ve already covered at some length: Trump is doing what he said he would do during the campaign. When Trump first called for a temporary ban on Muslim immigration during the Republican primary in late 2015, many in the media treated the statement as the kind of over-the-top proposal that would prevent Trump from winning the nomination (oops) and, if he did somehow get elected, would never be enacted. Trump’s actual executive order stops short of the full ban he initially proposed, but it nonetheless shows that he plans to make good on promises even (or perhaps especially) when they are opposed by the establishment wings of both parties.

The third storyline is how Trump enacted the ban: with minimal input and maximum chaos. Trump’s executive order was met with widespread confusion over who was covered by the ban — it took until the middle of the week to nail down whether green-card holders are exempt (they are, mostly) — and how it should be enforced. Border agents at Dulles airport outside Washington, D.C., for example, appear to have been stricter than those at other airports. By Monday, it was clear that a major reason for the confusion was that few of the agencies responsible for carrying out the policy had been consulted — or even informed about the details — before the order was signed. Multiple news outlets reported that Trump declined to consult relevant members of his own Cabinet, including Homeland Security Secretary.

Reason To Be Ever-Vigilant Over Gay Rights

Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump helped lead the charge to scuttle a draft executive order that would have overturned Obama-era enforcements of LGBT rights in the workplace, multiple sources with knowledge of the situation told POLITICO.

A draft executive order on LGBT rights – which outlines how to roll back former president Barack Obama’s protections and expand legal exemptions based on religious beliefs had been circulating among journalists and worried progressive groups this week.   The news of such efforts brought angst to many gay Americans and their allies.

But two sources close to Kushner and Ivanka Trump, who have in the past been supporters of gay rights, said the young couple were both in favor of putting out a clear statement from Trump, promising to uphold the 2014 Obama executive order and stopping the momentum for the turnaround in its tracks.

Going forward all will need to be mindful that there are many in this White House who harbor ill-will towards gay Americans.  We need to support those who work in our behalf and be vigilant in our efforts to thwart those who seek to remove our rights.  For now thanks to Kushner and Ivanka for their work.  Meanwhile shame on those who seek to undo social progress.

Americans Not Impressed With Trump, 53% Disapprove Of Mango Mussolini

It’s been two weeks since Donald Trump’s inauguration, and the new President’s work so far hasn’t impressed the American people.

A majority, 53%, disapprove of the way the President is handling his job, according to a new CNN/ORC poll, marking the highest disapproval for a new elected president since polls began tracking those results. Trump is the only President to hold a net-negative rating this early in his tenure.

Overall, 44% approve of the way he’s handling the job, seven points below the previous low-point of 51%. Further, the share who disapprove “strongly” of Trump’s work as president is nearly as large as the total block who approve, 43% feel intensely negative about Trump. Partisanship is the sharpest divider in opinions on Trump (90% of Republicans approve vs. 10% of Democrats).

The poll also found that most Americans oppose the travel restrictions put in place by Trump’s executive order last week.

Fifty-five percent say they see it as an attempt to ban Muslims from entering the US. Further, 6 in 10 oppose Trump’s plan to build a wall along the border with Mexico.

Overall, 47% say they favor the executive order on travel, which prohibits entry to the US for 90 days by citizens of seven majority-Muslim countries while suspending the US refugee program for 120 days and reducing the total number of refugees the US will accept this year. A majority, 53%, say they oppose the order. Those who favor the ban say by a 2-to-1 margin that they would like to see it expanded to other countries.

Bowling Green, Kentucky And Alternative Facts

Here we go again with alternative facts when it comes to Kellyanne Conway who is so in need of a hot-oil treatment.  Last night she used a massacre in Bowling Green, Kentucky, to promote another dangerous policy coming from the Trump administration. The sticking point? The massacre never happened.

Using fake tragedies to score political points is an insult to our fundamental values as Americans, and it is an added insult to all the families who have experienced the tragedy of mass shootings. Instead of creating stories about fake shootings that never happened, this administration should be focused on the very real shootings that happen every day in our nation and the very real things we can do to prevent them.

How about Conway cover her veiny legs and use her wily ways with Trump (now that Mrs. Trump is off in New York City) to do something positive such as the following idea for an executive order.

By the authority vested in me…….it is hereby ordered as follows:

Section 1. Purpose. Whereas 33,000 Americans are shot and killed with a gun each year, the United States must do more to prevent prohibited purchasers, being felons, fugitives, domestic abusers, terrorists and people who are a danger to themselves or others, from getting guns.

Sec. 2. Realignment, empowerment of ATF and other federal enforcement efforts to enforce the law and crack down on ‘bad apple’ gun dealers. (a) Failure to enforce existing gun laws and regulations is a major obstacle to reducing and preventing gun violence. Whereas just 5% of gun dealers are responsible for selling nearly 90% of all crime guns recovered by law enforcement, ATF only inspects any given dealer, on average, once every 5 years. If violations are found, ATF has been largely unable to reform or shut those dealers down. (b) The attorney general should direct ATF and U.S. attorneys to, in a timely fashion, identify, investigate, and hold accountable ‘bad apple’ gun dealers in violation of the law. The Justice Department will ensure that ATF has adequate resources to enforce existing laws regarding sales to prohibited purchasers, straw purchasing, gun trafficking, and black market commerce.

Sec. 3. Require all gun sales and transfers to go through a Federally Licensed Gun Dealer and be subject to a Brady background check. (a) The attorney general, in consultation with the Director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) and the Director of National Intelligence (DNI), shall immediately publish a directive requiring all gun sales and transfers to go through a federally licensed dealer and be subject to a Brady background check.

(b) Within 30 days the attorney general, in consultation with the Director of ATF, DNI, and the Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI), shall report to the President on procedure(s) to prohibit sales and transfers of firearms to known or suspected terrorists.

Sec. 4. Ensuring adequate access to resources for gun violence research. (a) The Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services, the attorney general, the Secretary of Homeland Security, and the Secretary of Defense will direct their agencies and departments to collect, share, and analyze data on gun violence in the United States as a public health epidemic, in part to better inform its solutions. They are also to ensure the necessary funds made available and reasonably accessible for such research efforts.


It Works For FAUX News, Why Not The Military?

The US military, in an embarrassing mix-up, touted video seized in Sunday’s raid in Yemen that turned out to be old video already published online.  A military spokesman acknowledged it was released without having been thoroughly analyzed.

The video was meant to demonstrate the value of the weekend raid, the stated aim of which was to recover key intelligence about al Qaeda.

War Crimes Court Needs Support From World Leaders With Moral Fortitude

If one looks at the rhetoric that dominated the winning candidate’s message for the Oval Office it is clear that a diminished role for our nation in relation to that of other powers is in the offing.  If one takes the words and actions of Steve Bannon,  Donald Trump’s chief strategist, and adds them to the mix it is clear that there is an unbridled eagerness for an anti-establishment revolt around the world.  You can almost hear the gleeful tones about turning the French and German elections into a far-right power grab.

But I want to take a step back from the election process and ask what will the policy implications be?  There is a topic of great concern I registered on this blog at the time Syrian President Assad used chemical weapons on his own people– and this country along with the world community–failed to act with a powerful response.  Over the course of Obama’s presidency the lack of action over this truly–and not just rhetorical red-line–has been my biggest complaint.

The same deep concern can be registered now against Russian President Putin with the deadly carnage left from bombing relentlessly in Syria.  There seems no path going forward where any world leader will work to bring war crimes charges and demand an international response.  And if the right-wing tilt expands with elections this year one has to assume the will to do the moral and just thing will slide even further away.

During President Clinton’s years in office the horrors from the Balkans were daily headlines.  It was tragic to the point of tearful.  But the perpetrators of many of the outrages were brought to justice before the UN’s Yugoslavia war-crimes tribunal.   The numbers indicted totaled 161 and 83 were sentenced as guilty.

That resolve to bring to bear a sense of justice and moral standing runs in contrast to this current time when it appears the world is willing to stand idly by and not demand those who committed war crimes to be held accountable.

I would hope–for the sake of international order and our fulfillment of a moral code–the world community could again muster the will to do what is right regarding war crimes. I want some teeth shown so that leaders likes Assad and Putin can be charged for war crimes committed in operations they ordered but did not personally lead or direct.  There is no world leader with sound democratic values who need fear such a path forward.  Only the ones who betray international norms need worry.

But given the shrinking number of world statesman and the erosion of moral fortitude there is no reason for anyone to think that war-crime tribunals will ever litigate Assad or Putin.