Gun Control Letter – Nov. 7

I’m putting this out here mainly because this issue has gotten to the point where it can’t be ignored. I don’t expect much from my current members of Congress.

I am writing today to talk about Gun Control. I have not written to you about ths issue before because I believed that this issue is mostly settled for the Republican party. They seem content to take the money from the Gun Lobby and do nothing to try to protect the innocent Americans killed by gun violence each year. Perhaps I have misjudged your feelings on this issue. In any case, the events of this past year, and especially the past month have demonstrated that inaction is no longer an option.

America needs more restrictions on these terrible weapons. We need more restrictions on who is allowed to purchase these weapons, and we need them now.

The majority of Americans do not own a single firearm. Fewer than 10% of us own the kinds of weapons that have been used in these recent attacks on our fellow Americans, and yet our laws have been written, and rewritten, to benefit the small minority who do own them. This can no longer stand.

A common claim made by those in that small minority is that their dangerous hobby is somehow protected by our Constitution. This is a claim that has never been supported by our courts, but it still persists. No other industry has been so successful at stealing our patriotism, our national symbols, and our founding documents to use as tools for their own marketing and propaganda purposes. I refuse to let these claims go unchallenged. I believe that protecting innocent Americans from murderers and their deadly weapons is an American value that is equal to any found in our Constitution, and I believe any restrictions you pass will hold up in court.

But even if the Gun Lobby is correct on every point, that is still no excuse for inaction from our lawmakers. Statehouses across this country pass laws restricting abortion every year inspite of decades of precedent from the highest courts in this country. This very month Congress has spent valuable legislative time trying to pass those same restrictions. Some of those supporters are people in your caucus and they consider it worth their time because they believe they are saving innocent lives.

And yet, when young American children are murdered in our churches and schools, the people running your caucus, the people you elected to leadership have chosen to do nothing. In fact, they are willing to spend more time on tax cuts for rich people, than on protecting the most vulnerable members of our society from violence. This is disgraceful.

We can no longer pretend that the blood of innocent Americans will wash off. These deaths are leaving a stain on our society that grows deeper every day. Inaction is no longer an option. We need restrictions on these terrible weapons. We need restrictions on who can own these weapons, and we need them today.


Syria Letter – 14 April 2016

I am writing again about the situation in Syria, which I am sure is of great concern to the entire country. My main concern is that I do not want the United States to be dragged into a civil war in Asia. I don’t completely understand the reasoning behind the Republican President’s decision to attack the Syrian government at this time. Mostly I am disgusted with the administration’s decision to lash out at the government of Syria, when his other actions in office are directly harming the people being murdered by that government.

Obviously, there are limits to what you are able to do about this. My hope is that you will do what you can to help the Syrian people to escape this terrible situation and to help other refugees, both in the Middle East and in other places that are also in dire straits but are not making the headlines. We should continue to give aid to these people and ignore the Administration’s budget on this and other issues. We should do more to help refugees to settle in the United States, again in spite of the administration’s desire. In a better political situation, we would have Congress taking the lead in these matters with an AUMF document that keeps the United States out of this civil war.

While I understand that domestic issues are front and center right now, I believe this is something that would have a large amount of support from both parties and may do more to bring some comity back to Congress. Something that has been missing these past few months.


Slash Fail GOP

Sad Paul Ryan

Sad Paul Ryan Is Sad

So we can add another major failure to the Republican agenda since their healthcare plan is toast. I put some effort into this even though it was kind of pointless because none of my delegation was going to break ranks. But thanks so much to everyone who put the effort in. It’s also proof that the issues with the Republican party in the house still exists and they really are their own worst enemy. Also, it’s proof that the Republican President is unusually weak politically as well as being inept at his job.

Would just like to add that my Senator is an idiot. I could hope that there was hope, and I’ll keep writing both of them. But daaamn this is just stupid and self-inflicted. Like so much else the GOP has to offer right now.

Immigration updates

The most surprising recent news was this article about an Israeli teen who is apparently responsible for hundreds of the bomb threats called into Jewish community centers in the U.S. and around the world. A slip-up in his call to a Jewish Center in New Zealand was apparently what got him caught. This is bizarre news and the best theory so far is the teen literally has brain damage.

It’s good news overall and also proof that the world is much weirder than we can believe. On the other hand, we’ve still got the people vandalizing Jewish Cemeteries, burning down Mosques in the U.S., and attacking people because of race and religion, and we can’t pin it all on this one dude.

Going through maybe a month’s worth of notes, for now:

March 22, 2017

White man traveled to New York to kill black men and ‘make a statement,‘
This is a pretty disturbing story. It reminds me a great deal of the murder of George Tiller a few year’s back where you had a White a-hole completely convinced he was in the right and just kill someone then go directly to jail. Only what the Baltimore white guy this year believes is that killing Black men is right. This is the damage that the white right reality distortion field can do and it may not let up for years.

UK, US ban electronics in carry-on luggage from Middle East airports
The story here is two fold: it’s going to be that much harder for travelers from Muslim countries to travel to the U.S., and we still don’t know if we can trust the U.S. government enough to just go on with this new piece of security theater. I mean, probably since it didn’t come directly from Trump and the U.K. is going along?

March 19, 2017

Refugee Nearly Freezes To Death Fleeing To Canada
I really want to collect all of these stories in a single place, but for now another demonstration of the effect the Muslim Ban has had on people even when it has been blocked at every turn.

Retired US police chief was detained by Customs for 90 minutes by CBP in JFK
So we have a U.S. citizen with a name that maybe matches some Muslim guy they’re looking for, and he has to wait 90 minutes and would have waited longer if another CBP agent didn’t take his side. And this man has travelled overseas “countless times since becoming a citizen”. This should not be the new normal in America.

March 17, 2017

Africa Trade Meeting Has No Africans After US Visa Denials
This conference in California usually has over a hundred delegates from across Africa, and this time none of them were allowed to attend. And we don’t know if this is just a fluke or part of new policy because there’s no one in Congress investigating and hardly anyone in the Republican Administration to ask about this.

March 16, 2017

Trump immigration policies kill work visas for specialized Canadian nurses
Again, we have no clear policy from CBP or CIS, and no one in place to help clear up whether this is official policy towards any foreigners now or just a case of normal bureaucratic failure.

Amid ‘Trump Effect’ Fear, 40% of Colleges See Dip in Foreign Applicants
This is a direct result of the policy, and it hasn’t even been implemented yet. See this opinion piece, for more commentary from people directly affected by this in the U.S.

Canada’s privacy watchdog probes US border phone seizures
Along with all of the other weird actions from CBP, many people have been reporting an uptick in cell phone seizures and demands to unlock the data in those phones. This is bad news both from a personal privacy area, and from international relations. People will stop coming to the U.S. if we hassle them too much for no good reason, and this may be the exact outcome some in the Republican Administration are looking for.

March 15, 2017

Mojahed Abu al-Jood, a Syrian refugee, recounts his perilous journey into Turkey with smugglers
This is the kind of story that always hurts to read, but it is important to recognize the peril refugees are fleeing from. And the danger that awaits them from people who are trying to take advantage of their situation. Safety is precious and easily overlooked when you’re half a world away.

March 14, 2017

Three More SXSW-Bound Bands Denied Entry Into The U.S.
More unannounced changes in policy from CBP and CIS. This one is directly affecting one of the biggest music and technology festivals in North America.

March 11, 2017

World Faces Largest Humanitarian Crisis Since 1945, U.N. Official Says
Millions across the Middle East and Africa are facing starvation and war and the Republican Administration’s policy is to close our doors and cut foreign aid. I don’t understand how anyone can think that is even a remotely good idea as a foreign policy. If these countries don’t turn to the U.S., they will turn to China and Russia. And that’s setting aside the fact that they are people in peril who desperately need our help.

March 6, 2017

There have been 3 violent attacks against Indians in the US in the past 13 days
Each of these men deserve their own entry, but there is so much to cover. The Indian Times has a good article on Harnish Patel who was an immigrant in the U.S. for 14 years, and was shot and killed in South Carolina in what appears to be a ‘racially motivated’ crime. I’ve already mentioned the killing of Srinivas Kuchibhotla which was also motivated by anti-immigrant hatred, but this trend is very troubling to me.

Again, so much to cover, and so little time to put it out there. But here’s the good and the bad news (mostly bad) from the past few weeks.

Immigration Letter – March 20

I’ve been writing my delegation, from a very Republican state, constantly since January. I’m posting these in the hope there may be some arguments others can use in their letters or articles.

March 20, 2017

I saw through the local paper that you recently attended a town hall meeting at the Dole Center. I am glad you were able to attend and I hope you continue to meet with your constituents from Lawrence. While I was unable to attend, I understand it mainly focused on healthcare. I have already sent you a couple of emails on this, so you likely do not need to hear more from me for now.

However, one of your remarks at the start of the town hall worried me a great deal. I believe the moderator mentioned that 100 people at KU were directly affected by the travel restrictions, and you were asked about your feelings on the second travel ban. I believe you called the second ban a “step in the right direction to keep us safe.”

I have been opposed to the Republican President’s travel ban from the beginning and it is this mistaken belief that it is supposed to keep the U.S. “safe” that I am especially unhappy about. Refugees are the ones who are most affected by this ban, and there is absolutely no evidence that refugees are a meaningful threat to our safety. Of the 784,000 refugees admitted since 9/11, exactly three have been arrested for terrorist activities in the U.S. Two of those were for sending support back to Iraq, not for an actual attack on the U.S., and the third did not prove to have a credible threat of attack.

This is an incredible rate and should demonstrate that the Refugee vetting program is working as well as humanly possible. There is absolutely no justification for including refugees in any ban, temporary or not, and at a time when we are facing the greatest refugee crisis since WWII, there is every reason to want to help these people. The Republican President has proposed turning our backs on all of them, and in his current budget proposal has asked to cut foreign aid as well. I do not support his decision or his proposed cuts. If implemented, I believe the decision will be seen as terrible as when we turned our backs on Jewish refugees fleeing Fascism, or as the internment of Japanese-Americans in WWII.

I hope you will take this under consideration and reevaluate your support of the President’s immigration ban.


Raymond Hodgson

Muslim Ban v2.0 – Still a bigoted failure

Statue of Liberty - Dark

2017 Is not being subtle at all

The Republican President has just signed a second attempt at a Muslim ban (only don’t call it a Muslim ban!). This time, there was no press and only a single sad picture on Twitter as an acknowledgement. Iraq has been removed from the list, except for Iraqi refugees which are still banned along with refugees from every other country. The ban is already being challenged in court and the hearing is March 15.

The security claim is exactly the same before. This time they have an Attorney General to give the trumped up numbers. “There are 300 open cases at the FBI,” but they can’t say what kind of cases are involved, which countries they supposedly come from, or how many are actually going to trial. Considering the urgent need for the Administration to find any justification for this illegal order, I’m sure if they had a single terrorist you’d hear no end of it.

If you want some actual numbers, 300 cases represents less than 0.3% of all refugees admitted in the past year and less than 0.05% of all refugees in the past 10 years. And roughly 3.7% of all open FBI cases actually turn into a full investigation. As a group, refugees seem to be less prone to both crime and violent crime than the rest of the U.S. population. Since 9/11 only three refugees out of 784,000 have been arrested for terrorist activities in the U.S. Two of those were for sending support back to Iraq, not for an actual attack on the U.S., and the third did not prove to have a credible threat of attack. This is an incredible rate and should demonstrate that the Refugee vetting program is working as well as humanly possible.

These facts are well known to the courts, and the ACLU, which is why the Administration has lost every single court challenge to date, and will continue to do so. Without a credible threat, there is no legal justification for this ban.

However, this is not really about facts but about bigotry and the fear by many of the Republican President’s supporters of those that are different from them. The best way to combat this is not with facts and figures, but to appeal to their common humanity and to demonstrate the unjust and heartless actions being carried out in the name of all Americans. That’s going to be my goal with this topic from here on.

Immigration Letter – February 26

I’ve been writing my delegation, from a very Republican state, constantly since January. I’m posting these in the hope there may be some arguments others can use in their letters or articles.

February 26, 2017

I am thankful that the courts have chosen to intervene on this issue and I can understand not wanting to spend valuable time on the legislative calendar on an issue that will likely be settled elsewhere.

I still am unconvinced on the security justification for the executive order. George W. Bush never felt the need to pass such an order even in the wake of 9/11. None of our closest allies have passed such a ban. Great Britain, which has fought beside us through all of this, has not only decided against any refugee ban, but has gone so far as to pass a unanimous resolution condemning the Republican President’s current action.

In short, I find it difficult to trust the judgement of an Administration that believes, in its first week, that it knows more than our past two Presidents and all of our closest allies.

However, I am more worried right now about the impacts of “Extreme Vetting” which has not been covered by the court rulings and has the potential to do much damage to our country’s reputation.

In the past few weeks, I have seen news reports of actions targeted against Muslims by US CIS and CBP agents.

These actions include:

  • A report of a British Citizen, not a dual national and so not part of the order, who was refused entry at a pre-screen in Iceland. He is a school teacher from Wales who was on a class trip to the US, and also a Muslim.
  • A report of a Canadian student athlete who was refused entry to the U.S., supposedly because of a tie to a jihadist he may have known in High School, but the connection was tenuous at best. He is also a Muslim.
  • A report of a Syrian family seeking asylum, so currently allowed entry due to the court situation, who chose to flee US CBP agents through below freezing temperatures to Canada because of the uncertainty about whether they would find safety in the U.S. They are also Muslims.
  • A report of a US Citizen, Muhammad Ali, Jr., who was detained for several hours and nearly refused entry, in spite of a valid US Passport. He is also a Muslim.
  • A couple of reports of US Citizens being denied global travel permits without adequate explanation even though they were originally on track for approval before the Executive Order. They are frequent business travelers that are ordinarily granted such permits without any difficulty, and they are also Muslims.
  • A report of Mem Fox, a 70 year old Australian Children’s author, who was insulted by U.S. Border agents and detained for several hours in Los Angeles. No explanation was given as to why she was treated so, though a formal apology was given later on by the U.S. government. She has traveled to the U.S. hundreds of times and now says she will never do so again.
  • Reports of CBP stopping all travelers on a domestic U.S. flight and forcing them to show ID, even though CBP does not normally act outside of U.S. border crossings.

And these are just the reports that make the news, there may be many others that do not.

I do not know if this is part of some new policy by the Administration, some action taken by CBP and CIS on their own, or simply unconnected incidents that were picked up by the media. And neither does any one else from what I can tell outside of (possibly) the Administration. These actions by themselves would seem to call for some oversight by Congress, but so far no one in the Kansas delegation at least seems willing to look into this, even informally. I understand wanting to concentrate on your own priorities and those of the Republican Party, but public oversight is the best antidote to the fear, uncertainty, and doubt that is affecting U.S. religious minorities, immigrants and visitors to our country.

And this is setting aside the effect this order has had on extremists in the U.S. Since the order was signed, mosques have been burned, people have threatened Jewish Centers and vandalized Jewish Cemeteries. I’m sure you’ve heard of the Garmin engineers in Olathe, KS who were shot by a man who simply hated immigrants.

The lack of transparency by the Republican Administration regarding its current immigration policy, the unnecessary haste in passing the Executive Order, and the lukewarm response towards attacks against religious minorities has shown a complete lack of leadership and is hurting our country’s standing around the world. I hope that Congress will not continue to keep silent or the damage being done may be difficult to repair.

Healthcare Letter – March 7

I’ve been writing my delegation, from a very Republican state, constantly since January. I’m posting these in the hope there may be some arguments others can use in their letters or articles.

March 17, 2017

I am writing today to ask you to vote against the proposed Healthcare Act. Barring that, I hope you will at least work to remove the most egregious parts of the bill and also only work to only pass a bill that has been reviewed by the CBO and shown to be neutral or positive in terms of the overall impact on the budget. A bill that sacrifices our future finances is no real replacement at all.

Healthcare services are unlike any other service in the economy in that the person using the service cannot always know before hand that they will need it and cannot be sure what the costs will be. The benefits to individual families and to society at large of good health are also difficult to understate. In my time living in Australia, I have seen firsthand the benefits of a healthcare system that puts the needs of people first, rather than the needs of insurance companies. It has been difficult to explain to the people here why America has made the choices it has, when the outcomes have been less than ideal.

Needless to say, I have not been a huge fan of the Affordable Care Act. I do understand the arguments in favor of having decisions made locally rather than by some faceless bureaucracy, however I do not believe either the ACA or the Republican replacement bill will do that. In both cases, we end up with decisions being made by a patchwork of government regulations, hospitals and insurance companies, each with their own agenda and none of them necessarily with the needs of the patients in mind. The Republican replacement bill seems to merely tilt the balance in favor of the Insurance companies at the expense of the poor and the elderly without actually improving outcomes for anyone.

This bill, especially the House version which has brazen giveaways to Insurance company executives, is not what Republican voters have fought for over the last eight years. I question whether this is really the legacy you want for the Republican party. It will surely become a sore point for every election in the foreseeable future.

Also, I am frankly baffled at the claims from the Republican leadership that this bill will increase patient choices when it includes provisions that directly go after the healthcare provider of choice for millions of American women, namely, Planned Parenthood. I understand that abortion is a sensitive issue for many voters, but this bill is not the appropriate vehicle and any debates over the merits of Planned Parenthood as an organisation should be dealt with separate from the healthcare needs of the entire country.

In closing, I believe that the best argument the Republican Party has made against the ACA was over the way it was passed, over the objections of the entire conference with little or no opportunity for compromise. The replacement bill, as it stands now, includes all of the exact same problems as the ACA without the certainty of any real solutions to the problems in the American healthcare system. The only certainty is that all of the blame for these problems will now pass to the GOP, and that the other party is ready to start its own “repeal and replace” campaign for the next election cycle. For that reason, I urge you to vote no on any bill that does not actually fix our country’s healthcare system.

Week 6: February 26–March 4

Read of the Week

Trump, Putin, and the New Cold War

By Evan Osnos, David Remnick, and Joshua Yaffa

A very well written article that gives alot of background on what Russia’s aims are and why they continue to be hostile to the West. Their discussion of the election interference was very enlightening.

Be Vewy Vewy Quiet!
I’m hunting for a Wussian Spy…

Sessions mislead the Senate during his confirmation hearing about his ties to Russia

This completely overshadowed the Republican President’s address to Congress earlier in the week, and it’s more evidence that their campaign’s ties to Russia have not been completely uncovered.

Coverage by The Washington Post with an assist by The New York Times.

I believe the Russia affair will continue to nag the Administration from now through the next elections. There is very little short of Congressional hearings that would clear this up, and the Republicans don’t want to spend time on those as it wastes legislative time and can only harm their party. The President’s party nearly always loses seats in the midterms and the GOP is well aware of that, which means they have a very limited amount of time to get their agenda passed.

If there is, in fact, any evidence of coordination or illegal communication between the campaign and Russia, this will derail the party for the foreseeable future. Something that Russia probably viewed as favorable as well, since their goal is to turn our Democracy in on itself, and #45’s election was just an unexpected windfall.

Immigration: Muslim Ban

Again this threatens to completely overwhelm anyone in the breadth of people affected by this. I’ve been focusing alot on the “Extreme Vetting” angle, but we should also be thinking about the people who are directly affected by this policy.

Vetting incidents:

  1. A Nigerian software engineer was detained at JFK until he could prove that he knew the answers to some complex Computer Science questions. Except that it’s doubtful that any of the CBP agents knew the answers either. Eventually they managed to contact his employer who confirmed he worked there. Nigeria is not on the list of countries indicated by the Executive Order.
  2. An Australian software engineer was similarly detained earlier in the year at Newark airport.
  3. An Australian Children’s author who has traveled to the U.S. hundreds of times before, was detained for two hours, assaulted, and aggressively questioned by CBP in Los Angeles.
  4. Muhammed Ali, Jr., a U.S. citizen, was detained for two hours at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport after telling CBP that he was a Muslim.
  5. A Jordanian with a valid US-visa was detained and then deported by CBP in Chicago this January after explaining to agents that he was born in Syria but left as a child to Jordan and that both of his parents are Jordanian.

More stories of the indirect impacts of this policy:

  1. A Garmin Engineer was shot and killed in Kansas by a man who allegedly yelled ‘get out of my country’. This hits very close to home for me and is yet another example of how disastrous the President’s handling of this has been.
  2. ‘This President has blood on his hands’: Anger at Indian’s shooting in Kansas by Yashwant Raj
  3. Four Mosques Have Burned In Seven Weeks — Leaving Many Muslims and Advocates Stunned by Albert Samaha and Talal Ansari
  4. I Was a Muslim in Trump’s White House by Rumana Ahmed
  5. Wave Of Bomb Threats Against Jewish Centers Soars To 100 This Year by Mike Hayes and Claudia Koerner
  6. Techies weigh in on Trump’s immigration policies by Sara Ashley O’Brien
  7. Banned a website described in the previous story which tells the story of six immigrants directly affected by the change in policy.

Immigration: Mexican Ban

There’s way too much for me to cover all of this in detail. ICE has been very busy. This story stands out for me:

Authorities Arrest 22-Year-Old Dreamer After She Speaks To Media by Dana Liebelson and Elise Foley

The State of Trump’s State Department

by Julia Ioffe

“This is probably what it felt like to be a British foreign service officer after World War II, when you realize, no, the sun actually does set on your empire,” said the mid-level officer. “America is over. And being part of that, when it’s happening for no reason, is traumatic.”

How Trump Is Trying to Govern America Like an Internet Troll

By Katherine Cross

In an ordinary year, this would seem like crass rabble-rousing from a magazine well known for it, but this seems restrained compared to the weird mix of Authoritarianism and Incompetence we’ve seen so far.

Our President’s Emotional Bait and Switch

by Andrew Sullivan

Sullivan again manages to explain both the unwarranted hope and crushing reality of our current President’s abusive relationship with the media and the American people.

Week 5: February 19–25

Read of the Week

That Very Strange Press Conference

I think everyone who was there wishes they could just block out the entire thing. The press conference is worse than anything even George W. Bush managed to put together. This is like Reagan without a Nancy to keep him on track.

Here’s a take on this from Bernstein, who always manages to stay clearheaded. And some brave soul managed to recap this:

Immigration: Muslim Ban

The Republican Administration seems to be regrouping after its stinging defeats in court, and will issue an new Executive Order with fewer obnoxious and illegal provisions.
The people running the show here may think they can pull some “Art of the Deal” nonsense and sneak through half of what they want, instead of all, but so far indications are that the new Executive Order will just get caught up in the same court battles as the previous one was.

This hasn’t stopped the administration from going ahead with the Extreme Vetting part of the Muslim ban. Examples include:

  1. Muslim Travelers Entering the U.S. Are Having Their Global Entry Cards Revoked, this includes U.S. Citizens (obviously).
  2. A British National (not a dual citizen) was refused entry because he is a Muslim.
  3. Muslim asylum seekers are actually fleeing U.S. Border Patrols and escaping to Canada.
  4. The U.S. is pushing for a new law in Canada that would expand the role of pre-screening officials. This is hard to analyze but troubling in that Muslims from Canada may be subject to searches and other intensive vetting actions when attempting to enter the U.S.

And more quotes from the Third World Dictator’s Guide to Media Relations:

Immigration: Mexican Ban

The Administration is also expanding its deportment actions including increased ICE raids throughout the country.
This includes reports of ICE roadblocks, arrests happening outside schools and churches, and door to door canvassing for undocumented immigrants.
Apparently scammers are already taking advantage of the situation in New York by claiming to be ICE agents and extorting money from people.

A good timeline on this issue is available from this very cool web blog.

Overall, this is a very troubling trend as it shows more expansion of Federal activity than has been seen in decades. The only other issue that has been Federalized to this extent is the Drug War, which of course disproportionally affects Black minorities, just as this is affecting Latinos.

I expect a scathing response from the Tea Party crowd on “encroaching Federal power” any day now…

The Voter Fraud BS Continues

The Administration’s latest round of claims seems to involve people being bussed into New Hampshire to fraudulently vote and hand the state to Clinton. This is on top of their continued claim that the Republican President’s loss in the popular vote was due to millions of illegal votes.

The Washington Post is not having any of this nonsense. And neither are members of the Federal Election Commission:

I can’t remember any politician even talking about the election a month after the fact, let alone three months later, and I lived through Bush v. Gore. I know there are people who want to see this as some kind of 12-dimensional chess move, but there is a stain of illegitimacy about this administration, and the way they carried the election, that isn’t going away. And these attacks on the media, legitimate protesters, and even the voters themselves stem from this insecurity.

Is This Washington Infighting—or Administration Incompetence?

So we have an Administration plan to review intelligence agencies by an allied corporate group. Apparently, they’re obsessed with leaks coming from various agencies, which is a symptom of how unpopular their policies are as well as a lack of communication, in my opinion.

The Administration also fired a National Security Council staffer for making “disparaging” remarks about some of the President’s advisors and was forced to quietly fire 6 staffers from an already understaffed White House, including the Chief Digital Officer, because they failed to pass their FBI Background checks.
This could be a warning shot from the FBI not to start investigating them, or just the fact that the Administration doesn’t have enough legitimate contacts to staff an organisation and they are forced to bring in flunkies.

Overall, a troubling trend for this Republican Administration that had to withdraw its nominee for Labor Secretary, had a few issues finding a replacement for Flynn, and which has only filled 14 of the 549 key positions it needs Senate Confirmation on. This is way behind a normal Presidency and will leave them unable to carry out much of their agenda. Hopefully, they won’t decide to bring in a few hundred recess appointments over the Summer or something.

DoJ Investigation of Comey Continues

It’s kind of surprising the guy has kept his job this long since no one really likes him that much in either party. But I suppose he has allies in the Administration since he helped hand them the election.

Typical Republican B.S.

So there’s plans to remove the Endangered Species Act, moves to allow drilling for oil in National Parks, another Executive Order to rollback Wall Street regulations put in place after the Great Recession, and changes in Title IX to remove protection for Transgender students in Education. All of which are bad news, and are kind of a sideshow compared to the complete meltdown going on.

The White House Mole

By Andrew Sullivan

Another good reflection on the past week by Andrew Sullivan. It’s impossible to overstate how deeply weird and dysfunctional this administration is, even in the first month, and we’re still creeping towards the end.

Week 4: February 12–18


Another one bites the dust.

Read of The Week

The Madness of King Donald

By Andrew Sullivan

Sully’s back, and his first piece is a magnificent look at our trip through the Upside Down.


This has been going on in the background for a couple of weeks. What we know:

This is very troubling, but it’s hard to say whether Congress will get do their job and investigate or stay in denial. It looks like the House is going to wait for more troubling information to come out. The Senate, which has fewer Trump allies, is likely to start some kind of investigation.

Watching Donald Trump Try to Puzzle Out What ‘Asset Forfeiture’ Means Is Deeply Discomfiting

By Jesse Singal

Paranoid hatchet piece or accurate examination of a 70-year-old President with no policy or governing experience? Either way, it seems to fit into the narrative of the Republican President as a potential pawn of both the White Right and Russia.
The fact that this isn’t some conspiracy website but NY Magazine shows how much this Administration has done to damage itself in just these few weeks.

This New Yorker piece by Sarah Stillman referred to in the article is also important reading even nearly four years later.

More Reports of “Extreme Vetting” in Action

First, this report of a growing number of Syrian refugees fleeing to Canada from the United States during freezing winter weather.
This is a direct result of the Republican Administration’s Muslim Ban and is not likely to either improve the image of the U.S. abroad or to help our relations with Canada. But 45 doesn’t care.

Another take on this from the NY Times:

Another report of a Canadian denied entry to the U.S. because of someone he may have known in High School. The CBC claims he was held for five hours and asked about his religion and his parents’ birthplace before being denied entry.

Immigration Raids Are Reported Around The Country

By Richard Gonzales

Another of the Republican Administration’s campaign promises partially delivered. The execution of these raids seems to be less clumsy than the Muslim Ban, which means the end result is only a cruel attack on hard working immigrants including the parents of many young American citizens.
Where ICE is going to keep all of these immigrants, how they will be treated, and will their rights actually be respected are also open questions which were completely ignored during the campaign.

The media and popular response to this was the reason why the policy changed under Obama and he was one of the more popular Presidents. I can’t imagine how bad this will play out for an Administration already on a rocky footing.
The protests reported here by the Washington Post may give us a clue, however.

Republican Lawmakers Propose New Law To Reduce Legal Immigration

By John Burnett

The bill as proposed is very unlikely to pass, but still a picture of where this Republican Administration, and the White Right lawmaker allies are wanting to take us. I’m already writing my Senators about this.

Republican state lawmakers push for restrictions on voting

By Kathleen Ronayne and Christina A. Cassidy

This is just more of the same Republican attacks on voting rights, nothing to see here! The good news is, these will all likely get struck down eventually, but they only need them to last through another round of close elections. Have you talked to your State Lawmakers lately?

Trump U.K. Visit Delayed to Avoid Parliament Talk, Guardian Says

by Stefania Spezzati

This is our closest ally, and it is a troubling picture of how Canada and Australia are likely to respond if the situation doesn’t change.

The Old Guard Is Slowly Waking Up

No, not woke

While this crisis has pushed many ordinary citizens into political action, the Old Guys in the Room are still trying to leave their state of denial at their own pace. Two interesting takes on how this may look from the inside.
Never Too Soon for a Functional White House by Jonathan Bernstein.
And this tweet thread: