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.

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.