Category Archives: Foreign Affairs

Donald Trump’s Muslim Ban – Update

In my opinion, the best lie is the one that is just a little bit tainted with truth. Those lies are the best lies. About two weeks ago, President Donald Trump (yeah, it still does not sound right) signed an executive order which asked for increased scrutiny of persons wanting to immigrate to this country from several lands. I say several lands because if you actually read his executive order, first of all it is kind of a headache because it is long and nonspecific. The order does not actually say Iraq, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen. So, let us actually read what the order says I hereby proclaim that the immigrant and nonimmigrant entry into the United States of aliens from countries referred to in section 217(a)(12) of the INA, 8 U.S.C. 1187(a)(12), would be detrimental to the interests of the United States, and I hereby suspend entry into the United States, as immigrants and nonimmigrants, of such persons for 90 days from the date of this order (excluding those foreign nationals traveling on diplomatic visas, North Atlantic Treaty Organization visas, C-2 visas for travel to the United Nations, and G-1, G-2, G-3, and G-4 visas).

Now, this whole thing gets complicated. It appears that President Trump’s executive order refers to the “Visa Waiver Program Improvement and Terrorist Travel Prevention Act of 2015.” This was a bill that was tacked onto the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2016. So, it is kinda hard to say that this was a Obama administration initiative. The bill was actually written by former Congresswoman Candice Miller, Republican. To make matters even more confusing, this bill, HR 158, simply canceled the Visa Waiver Program. So, essentially, what this did was force travelers from Syria and Iraq to get visas the old-fashioned way through interviews at the American consulate. So, President Obama had the choice of signing this huge omnibus spending bill into law which would allow the government to continue to operate or to veto it because of this bill which was tacked on by Congresswoman Miller. You tell me, does this sound like an Obama program?

So, because this is an confusing enough, Donald Trump said, “My policy is similar to what President Obama did in 2011 when he banned visas for refugees from Iraq for six months.” Um, this is not exactly true either. So, in response to the May 2011 arrest of two Iraqi refugees on terrorism charges in Bowling Green, Kentucky, the Obama administration decided that immigrants from Iraq deserved increased scrutiny. This was not a ban. It was increased scrutiny. So, on one hand, Donald Trump was right President Obama did do something in 2011 and his policy was relatively similar… Kind of but not really.

This is not the kind of thing you should NOT be arguing over at the water cooler. It just is not worth it. There are tons of details and for the most part, when you are arguing over water cooler nobody knows the details. The reason I bring this up was because I heard the argument in the emergency room. Two doctors were going at it. One was accusing the other of hypocrisy because “Obama did the same thing.” No, Obama did not. Go back and read. While it is important to engage our fellow Americans. It is not important to discuss the details of a ban that is a ban verses Obama’s ban that was not a ban. Got it.

Finally, I think that the President has the power to control who is coming into this country. I think that’s in the Constitution. I don’t think that we can argue that. Instead the argument is what kind of convoluted nonsense did Trump put in his executive order.  Oops. I just got an email from my (our) constitutional scholar Linda Monk. I was wrong!!! Article I gives the power of immigration to Congress and NOT the president.  Article I, Section 8 – The Congress shall have Power to establish as uniform Rule of Naturalization. There it is in black and white.  Article II deals with the President. It says in Section 2 – The President shall be Commander in Chief of the  Army and Navy of the United States, and of the Militia of the several States, when called into the actual Service of the United States. The president’s powers with regard to immigration are implied. So, Congress needs to pass a law restricting immigration from those 7 countries. That would be lawful!

News Roundup – John Oliver, Trump, Bowling Green, Yemen

I didn’t watch the Last Week Tonight show after the election. John Oliver was exactly right. This is NOT normal. Trump is not normal. We have no idea what Trump is going to do. This is a leaky White House. I really, really want to give Trump the benefit of the doubt, but I still believe that he does not have the intellectual curiosity to be a good president. Remember, we had a long national discussion about Bush and his lack of being curious. He just accepted information that was given to him. You simply can’t do that.

Great opinion piece by John Marshall at Talking Points Memo. He argues that Trump was never a populist; rather, he is a nationalist. This could be a good thing, but it could also be interpreted negatively. From the perspective of a nationalist, it would seem that the fact that America is an open and inclusive society, where we embrace and love this melting pot, is one of our strengths. Trump, however, has adopted a different type of nationalism.

Paul Krugman has put my fear into words. It seems like we are picking fights with everyone. Why do we want to pick a fight with Australia? BTW, what does “putting Iran on notice” actually mean? I have a bad feeling that we are going to be at war with someone pretty soon.

There is so much going on that it is easy to miss things like a raid on a compound in Yemen. For me, American casualties are never a good thing. We need to think long and hard about everything we are doing any time an American soldier dies. Was the raid worth it? So far, I don’t have any idea. I understand the problems in counterterrorism. The purpose of this raid was to stop what exactly? As the American soldiers approached the target they knew that they had lost the element of surprise. So why press on? Was this that important? I don’t know. We lost a $75 million MV-22 Osprey (an aircraft that got a terrible reputation 20 years ago as it was being developed).

Have you heard anything about the Bowling Green Muslim Massacre? Nope, neither had I.

So, it is Black History month. The White House usually does something to honor Black Americans. Trump was Trump. He started on the topic of Black History and covered the basics – Martin Luther King, Fredrick Douglass and Harriett Tubman. He then veered off the subject into nothingness. It isn’t that I think that our president needs to be an expert on Black History, but he should at least pretend that it is important to America. That’s all that I ask…maybe that’s too much.

What stories are you following?

News Round Up – Lochte, Hot, Earthquake, EpiPen

lochte

I am not sure how to explain a man working all his life to be successful and then, on a whim, flushing it all down the toilet. That is exactly what Ryan Lochte did. Lochte lied to authorities in Rio. He has been formally charged with filing a false robbery report. This is a man who performed brilliantly in the Olympic pool. He was a set up to collect at least tens of thousands of dollars in sponsorships. He has lost almost all of that. Sometimes, it is extremely hard to explain human behavior.

Man, it is hot and I hope that you like hot, because the long-term outlook is for more heat!!

italian earthquake

This is just terrible. From WaPo – In this 12th-century town, as many as 70 percent of the homes were vacant in the off-season. There were fewer people on the streets. Numerous teenagers had left for good. And that was before the earthquake. As the search through the ­debris continued and hopes dimmed that rescuers would find more survivors, cities and towns hit hard by Wednesday’s devastating temblor in central Italy began to process the full extent of the disaster. Churches fell. Piazzas were ruined. Neighborhoods were leveled. The body count was at least 250 and set to grow. But in many of those towns, already fighting a long battle against depopulation, a deeper anxiety began to spread.

Yuck!!  EpiPen monopoly – A two-pack of the injectors, which release epinephrine to stop an allergic reaction, has risen from less than $100 in 2007 to $608 today. Mylan said the company never intended for patients to pay the full price, expecting insurers would carry the load. “We recognize the significant burden on patients from continued, rising insurance premiums and being forced increasingly to pay the full list price for medicines at the pharmacy counter,” chief executive Heather Bresch said in a statement. (Oh, and here’s the good part.) The debate is the latest to embroil Congress in the battle over increasing drug costs and their role in escalating health insurance premiums. EpiPen’s rising price is particularly notable because state and federal legislation have been key to the drug’s rapid growth. Annual prescriptions for EpiPen products have more than doubled in the past decade to $3.6 million, according to IMS Health data. Mylan benefited from factors including failed competitors, patent protections and laws requiring allergy medications in schools. Having a virtual monopoly has facilitated the rapid price hike. Mylan reached $1 billion in sales for the second time last year.