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.

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

Flynn-ghazi

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.


Flynn-ghazi

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:

Week 3: February 5–11

Those Germans Really Don’t Mess Around

 

Read of the Week:

In His Own Words: It’s time to use Trumpspeak against him

By @hhavrilesky

The Awl keeps chugging on despite the odds. And they’re still producing the best content for those of us who want to be less stupid.


The Immigration Tempest

This is my issue. I know there are other people who are worried about domestic actions, especially by law enforcement, but I am an immigrant to Australia as well as a 5th generation American. I have written all of my Congressmen and women for the first time ever, including a cursive longhand letter to my Representative who is quitting this circus in two years and may be moved on this issue.

There are too many articles to pick just one link. There are so many angles: the legal process, the Republican President’s unprecedented verbal attacks on the Judicial system, and the stories of how this mess has affected real people on the ground.

If you have an hour (or more) to spare, I would urge anyone who cares about this issue to listen to This American Life’s coverage on this. Particularly their most recent episode, also this episode on Iraqi translators and these two episodes on the refugee crisis from last year.

Flying Home From Abroad, a Border Agent Stopped and Questioned Me … About My Work for the ACLU

By @HinaShamsi

What is chilling about this story is the fact that she was not targeted by her work for the ACLU, but by her national origin. Others have been stopped and extensively questioned because of their religion. Even U.S. citizens. This is what “Extreme Vetting” really is. It’s a policy of making sure that anyone who isn’t welcomed by the race-bating crowd can no longer feel welcomed in America. And even if every change made by the Republican Administration is overturned, it is still going to cause long term damage to America’s image.


Raid in Yemen: Risky From the Start and Costly in the End

By Eric Schmitt and David E. Sanger

Technically from the previous week, when this blog didn’t exist, but the story is still developing.

Another case where the Republican Administration’s incompetence manages to overwhelm what would otherwise be a simple “rally the troops” moment. I don’t expect them to necessarily get their act together as they have no clue about foreign policy, but if they find someone who does, then we may have more Wag the Dog moments to act as a distraction from the administration’s domestic agenda. If putting American lives at danger and killing civilians for no good reason can really be called a distraction.


That Breitbart Interview

uploaded by: Ashley Feinberg (@ashleyfeinberg)

Again we see the Republican Administration’s incompetence on display, as everything about this is weak-ass minor league dictator bullshit. But we also have the administration trying to bypass any media they don’t control as much as possible. Which is scary.


The List of Made-Up Terror Bullshit

By Brian Naylor and Jessica Taylor

This will all blow over in less than a week. But the Republican Administration put out an inaccurate list of terror attacks that were supposedly not covered by The Media.
Again, we have their incompetence battling their attempt to pull something from the Third World Dictator’s Handbook on media relations. Their endgame is mostly to delegitimize The Media so they can
attempt to get through their tenure only talking to Breitbart or other outlets that will allow them to lie at will.

This item on the list irked me the most for some reason, but it’s all terrible


Style Guide on 45:

This is my new style guide on how to refer to the Republican President. Note the suggestion to refer to “The Republicans” who are responsible, most especially their base, for what is going on in America.
Which is why they spend so much time going after “the media” and pretending like they don’t own this.


Confirmation Hearings

Again there are too many articles on both DeVos and Sessions to link to something definitive. The Democratic Senators were finally motivated to show some backbone. The Republicans had to pull out every trick they could think of and my own Senators from a very red state (Kansas) had to justify their votes, especially for DeVos. They know they’ve done wrong, but in their political calculus the cost
of handing the administration a major loss outweighs anything else. They can’t afford to stop believing this is a normal administration or they would have to fight against both the center and right flanks and the entire party would probably split.

I know there are people who were discouraged that their first taste of political action was a defeat, but 1.5 million calls a day is enough to get everyone on the hill worried. This gives the handful of moderates who can be pushed cover to break from their party on other nominations. As long as we can manage to keep the pressure on in any case.

Final thoughts from a fellow Twitter user: