Mind and Destiny

“I make no pretension to patriotism. So long as my voice can be heard ... I will hold up America to the lightning scorn of moral indignation. In doing this, I shall feel myself discharging the duty of a true patriot; for he is a lover of his country who rebukes and does not excuse its sins. It is righteousness that exalteth a nation while sin is a reproach to any people.”- Frederick Douglass

Location: Delhi, N.Y., United States

The author and his webmaster, summer of 1965.

Tuesday, February 28, 2017


Delegates to the Constitutional Convention left the deity out of the picture, by refusing to follow Ben Franklin's suggestion that their daily sessions be opened with a prayer for divine guidance.

In 1950’s, Congress added the words, “under God” to the Pledge of Allegiance.  And although, E Pluribus Unum (Out of Many One) was considered our motto, Congress adopted “In God we trust” as the official motto.

The 1960 Supreme Court decision in Engel vs Vitale ruled it unconstitutional for public schools to allow prayer, even though the prayer was non-denominational and students were allowed to abstain from the exercise.  President Kennedy announced, that he understood many people were angered by the ruling, but that there was “a very easy remedy - not a constitutional amendment but a renewed commitment to pray at home, in the churches and with their families.”

In 1984, Ronald Reagan explained: “Our very unity has been strengthened by our pluralism.  We establish no religion in this country, we command no worship, we mandate no belief, nor will we ever.”

Nevertheless, some people find the song, “Imagine” that was written and preformed by John Lennon offensive.  They can’t: "Imagine there’s no heaven... No hell below us... people, living for today... no countries...  Nothing to kill or die for, and no religion too... all the people, living life in peace... No need for greed or hunger, a brotherhood of man... all the people, sharing all the world.”

On December 8, 1980, Lennon was murdered in the archway of his Dakota residence.  New York City dedicated an area of Central Park directly across from the Dakota, as Strawberry Fields.  Many countries donated trees, and Naples Italy donated the Imagine mosaic centerpiece.  I visited the site early one morning and imagined a brotherhood of man named PEACE.

Monday, February 27, 2017

Murder Rate

President Trump claimed: “The murder rate in our country is the highest it’s been in 47 years, right?”
In the 1980’s the murder rate was 10.2 per 100,000 people.  It went down to 4.4 percent in 2014.  Today, it’s actually close to an all-time low.  
Trump is a  purveyor of fake news, who is trying to promote a false narrative that preys on the fear of American citizens.  
After San Bernardino terrorist attack, President Obama ordered the Departments of State and Homeland Security to review the visa waiver program under which the female terrorist in San Bernardino came to our country.  After that review, Congress received a classified briefing.  One of the unclassified facts of that briefing was that of the last 75,000 refugees who came to the United States, only about 12 were later determined to be a security threat.  A lower crime rate than that doesn’t exist anywhere else in our country.
Obama’s administration cooperated with Muslim countries, and our Muslim communities at home to counter the ideology that ISIL promoted online.
Trump isn’t only trying to create a false narrative, he’s also attempting to delegitimizing the press.  Trump’s doing something we’ve never seen in our history.  He’s demanding loyalty by delegitimizing the press and attacking our judicial system with comments such as: “so-called judge,”and “I alone can fix this.”  He’s attacking the news media and our judiciary in order to create a loyalty to himself.  Demanding personal loyalty is a political leadership style, that fortunately we’ve seldom seen in America.
Actually, the odds of being killed in a motor vehicle accident is 1 in 113.  Being killed by a lightning strike is 1 in 174,000.  The odds of being killed in a terrorist attack perpetrated by a refugee, is 1 in 46 million. 

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Hatred or Revenge

Robert Kennedy campaigned in New York for the Senate in 1964.  I had the privilege of shaking his hand as his motorcade passed by on Union St. in Schenectady.

In a 1968 speech RFK explained: “When you teach a man to hate and fear his brother, when you teach that he is a lesser man because of his color or his beliefs or the policies he pursues, when you teach that those who differ from you threaten your freedom or your job or your family, then you also learn to confront others not as fellow citizens but as enemies - to be met not with cooperation but with conquest, to be subjugated and mastered...

“We must admit the vanity of our false distinctions among men and learn to find our own advancement in the search for the advancement of all.  We must admit in ourselves that our own children's future cannot be built on the misfortunes of others.  We must recognize that this short life can neither be ennobled or enriched by hatred or revenge.”

Robert Kennedy’s older brother President John F. Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas, on November 22, 1963.  Martin Luther King was fatally shot in Memphis, on April 4, 1968.  Two months latter on June 5, 1968, while campaigning for president, Senator Robert F. Kennedy was murdered in Los Angeles.

Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump preached hatred, and religious bigotry to eager listeners in mostly white communities across our country.  Some are cruel chauvinist, who also want to restrict women’s rights, and the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender citizens.  Racial hatred goes much deeper than many white Americans want to admit. 

Warning!  Hate is like a powerful acid, because it can do more harm to the container in which it’s kept, than those upon which it’s spewed.

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Reasonable Question

In the wake of the Newtown school massacre, President Obama proposed background checks on all gun sales and bans on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines as part of a package of steps to reduce gun violence.

With relatives of some of the 20 children killed at the Newtown massacre looking on Obama signed 23 executive actions that didn't require congressional approval, and insists that we strengthen background checks and expand safety programs in schools.

He asked Congress to reinstate an assault weapons ban that expired in 2004, to restrict ammunition magazines to no more than 10 rounds, and to require a background check on anyone buying a gun, whether at a store or in a private sale at an auction or convention.

Referring to the children killed in the Newtown shootings and other victims of gun violence, Obama wanted our nation to do a better job of protecting its children, especially when they are in public places such as schools, shopping malls and movie theaters. 

Data analysis of crime gun databases showed that 70 percent of guns recovered at crime scenes in Virginia were purchased within one year of the crime, suggesting that in some cases the gun purchased was made with the intent to commit a crime or murder.

High-profile assassinations such as those of John F. Kennedy, and Martin Luther King involved the use of rifles, usually with telescopic sights, from concealed locations.

Recently, congressional Republicans pass legislation that makes it easier for the severely mentally disabled to buy guns.

The Oneonta Daily Star’s conservative columnist Chuck Pinkey boasted: “The Right has over 300 million guns and a trillion rounds of ammunition.”  What does the Right intend to do with all that ammunition?  Could an armed rebellion be the reason they’ve opposed background checks all along? 

Friday, February 24, 2017

Aggressive Politics

Democratic Senators have provided Trump’s key Cabinet nominees the lowest level of support from an opposition party in history.  Congressional Democrats have participated in, organized, and led more than 70 peaceful protests against the repeal of the Affordable Care Act.  They’ve also joined activists at airports to help travelers affected by Trump’s executive orders on immigration and refugees. 

Democratic members of Congress, such as Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia, who was the only Democratic senator that voted to confirm Jeff Sessions for attorney general is being treated with distain. 

In the race for chairman of the Democratic National Committee, Thomas Perez, the former secretary of labor told the audience at The Huffington Post’s live Democratic National Committee debate: “We can hit him (Trump) between the eyes with a 2-by-4 and treat him like Mitch McConnell treated Barack Obama.”

There are a lots of new faces entering the Democratic primaries in the 2018 midterms, for the House and the Senate.  Those of you that are interested in running for Congress, should contact Rep. Ben Ray Luján of New Mexico, who is the chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, or Sen. Chris Van Hollen of Maryland, who is the chairman of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. 

A lot of money is available for new Democratic candidates, who are interest in running for state and local offices.  Daily Kos, the blog community that fueled Democratic campaigns in the Bush years, has already committed $400,000 in donations for Jon Ossoff, a 29 year old candidate for the suburban Atlanta House seat being vacated by Rep. Tom Price of Georgia, who is the new Secretary of Health and Human Services.

The Democratic Party is turning itself into a very aggressive political machine.  It’s time to become personally involved in politics.  

Thursday, February 23, 2017

CNN Reported

For the first time, CNN has reported that multiple current and former American law enforcement and intelligence investigators have said they have been able to corroborate some of the communications detailed in a 35 page dossier compiled by a former British intelligence agent. 

CNN was the first to report, then-President-elect Donald Trump and President Obama were briefed on the existence of the dossier prior to Trump's inauguration.  None of the newly learned information relates to the salacious allegations in the dossier.  The dossier details about a dozen conversations between senior Russian officials and other Russian individuals.  Sources would not confirm which specific conversations were intercepted or the content of those discussions due to the classified nature of our country’s intelligence collection programs.

But the intercepts do confirm that some of the conversations described in the dossier took place between the same individuals on the same days and from the same locations as detailed in the dossier, according to the officials.  CNN has not confirmed whether any content relates to presidential candidate Trump.

The corroboration, based on intercepted communications, has given US intelligence and law enforcement greater confidence in the credibility of some aspects of the dossier as they continue to actively investigate its contents.

Some of the individuals involved in the intercepted communications were known to the US intelligence community as heavily involved in collecting information damaging to Hillary Clinton and helpful to Donald Trump.

The dossier was commissioned by political opponents of then-candidate Trump and compiled by a former British intelligence agent.  Our intelligence agencies checked out the former MI6 operative and his vast network throughout Europe and found him and his sources to be credible.

In January, Donald Trump dismissed the entire dossier by saying: "It's all fake news.  It's phony stuff.  It didn't happen."

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Significant Issues

In his first week in office, President Trump proved to be liar, and very eager to attack the fundamental institutions of our democracy.  We should all be concerned, that Trump lies repeatedly, in order to distract citizens from the real issues of health care, jobs, our fundamental civil rights. 
According to the Congressional Budget Office repealing the Affordable Care Act, and not replace it immediately will cost 18 million Americans’ their health insurance.
We have real issues with voting in America, that doesn’t include the lies that Trump made up.  The fact is that we have voter suppression laws, that are being questioned in North Carolina right now.  Federal judges have pointed out that in at least one case, state voting laws have been narrowly tailored to affect specific populations. 
There is a massive movement amongst democratic voters who believe that our Justice Department should be investigating voter suppression.  But, Trump’s  Justice Department won’t to be protecting women, LGBT rights, and making sure that there’s greater accountability and policing in this country. 
Unfortunately, Jeff Sessions, who voted against those issues has been confirmed as Attorney General of the Justice Department, mostly along party lines.  
There is also the issue that the Electoral College was designed to be undemocratic.  And, having two Senators for a state with about the same number of voters as Staten Island isn’t a representative democracy. 
Gerrymandered House districts make a Republican majority in the House, a possibility for the many years.  The gerrymandered Republican districts are demographically much older and much whiter.

Those issues and the Senate filibuster rules compounded the significant advantage of the minority in a way that our founders could never have imagined.  

Furthermore, Chuck Pinkey claims: “The Right has over 300 million guns and a trillion rounds of ammunition.”

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Selective Memory

By 2008, America's most powerful corporations had been allowed by the Bush administration to do whatever they wanted without government regulation?

Unfortunately, today an unworthy Republican majority in Congress and President Donald Trump seem to have already forgotten about those people who lost their homes, life savings, and 401(k)s, because of corporate greed and corruption.

According to the Pew Charitable Trusts:  The 2008 financial crisis cost our country an estimated $648 billion due to slower economic growth.

Federal government spending to relieve the financial crisis through the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) resulted in a net cost to taxpayers of $73 billion according to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office. Furthermore, 5.5 million more American jobs were lost due to slower economic growth during the financial crisis than was predicted by the CBO in September 2008 forecast.

According to the Federal Reserve, we lost $3.4 trillion in real estate wealth from July 2008 to March 2009.  That is roughly $30,300 per household.  The Federal Reserve also reported that there was a lost of $7.4 trillion in stock wealth during that same period. 

Only 3 Republican Senators voted to pass the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act into law.  It’s considered to be the most ambitious Wall Street reform ever, and was intended to keep the banks from risking money they didn’t have and creating another worldwide crisis.

Recently, President Trump signed an executive orders to start doing away with Dodd-Frank.  He direct his administration to evaluate regulatory action taken by Democrats, with an eye toward eliminating what his advisers say are burdensome rules on financial services firms and consumers.  He also mandated a delay of an Obama-era rule that required retirement advisers to act in their clients' best interests.

Monday, February 20, 2017

On Roe vs. Wade

An anonymous post on the“Sound Off” feature of The Oneonta Daily Star argued: “Seriously, what business is it of some old white guy whether I have a baby or not?  Take my advice, all you self-righteous, mostly male anti-abortionists — mind your own business.  I join millions of women who will never again acknowledge anyone else’s right to interfere with my health care decisions.  You are free to follow your beliefs, leave me free to follow mine.  My Body, My Life, My Decision!  I say hurray for Roe v. Wade!  Since 1973, women have had the amazing, exhilarating, delightful, empowering freedom to make the yea or nay decision on pregnancy themselves.  Face the facts, fellas, you can’t put the genie back in the bottle.  The 1973 Roe v. Wade decision set women free and we will never give that up.  My Body, My Life, My Decision!”
Retired Marine General Anthony Zinni was sent as a special envoy to the Middle East.  Israel Foreign Minister Shimon Peres advised Zinni: "Don’t waste your time with (the righteous).  You’ll find them on both sides, and they’re always going to appeal to the righteousness of their cause... There’s no negotiating with righteousness.  Yes, it’s their right to believe what they believe...  They interpret facts from their religious angle and they ignore facts that don’t support that."

The righteous of Judaism, Islam and Christianity impose the teachings of their religion onto other citizens as part of their authoritarian political agenda.  Righteousness is at the core of many conflicts, and a women’s right to abortion is one of them.  Righteousness refuses to allow women the right to an abortion.

Historically, an unworthy Republican Party ignores the First amendment: "Congress shall make no law respecting or establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof..."

Sunday, February 19, 2017

James Comey

 In late October, after, FBI Director James Comey had made a second intrusion into the campaign between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid accused Comey of violating federal law that prohibits government employees from using their official powers to electioneer. 

Harry Reid pointed out that Comey had made multiple public comments about FBI inquiries into Clinton’s email practices, but employed a double standard with respect to the two candidates.   

In a letter to the FBI Director, Senate Minority Leader Reid wrote: “In my communications with you and other top officials in the national security community, it has become clear that you possess explosive information about close ties and coordination between Donald Trump, his top advisors and the Russian government, yet you continue to resist calls to inform the public.”

“By contrast, as soon as you came into possession of the slightest innuendo related to Secretary Clinton, you rushed to publicize it in the most negative possible light.”

According to The New York Times:“ Russians had hacked the Republican National Committee’s computer systems in addition to their attacks on Democratic organizations, but didn’t release the information they gleaned from the Republican networks.”

In mid-September, the Washington Post reports: “[White House] officials devised a plan to seek bipartisan support from top lawmakers and set up a secret meeting with the Gang of 12—a group that includes House and Senate leaders, as well as the chairmen and ranking members of both chambers’ committees on intelligence and homeland security.  President Obama sent FBI Director James Comey and Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson to make the pitch for a ‘show of solidarity and bipartisan unity’ against Russian interference in the election, according to a senior administration official.”

However, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell rejected the appeal to create a united front in support of American democracy.  Whatever, Comey and the other officials relayed to the Gang of 12, his presence in that role tipped off Reid that Comey had deep knowledge of Russian interference efforts, and even stood prepared to inform the public pending bipartisan approval.

A month later, just before the election, and after in partisan prodding from within the FBI, Comey disclosed the discovery of a batch of Clinton emails (none of which turned out to be relevant, and nearly all of which turned out to be duplicates), that most likely handed the election to Donald Trump.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Thank You, But No

Retired Vice Admiral Bob Harward turned down President Trump's offer to be national security adviser after Michael Flynn resign.

Vice Admiral Harward explained: "Since retiring, I have the opportunity to address financial and family issues that would have been challenging in this position.  Like all service members understand, and live, this job requires 24 hours a day, 7 days a week focus and commitment to do it right.  I currently could not make that commitment.  My thoughts and prayers are with those that carry such heavy burdens and responsibility for taking care of our country's national security concerns.  God bless this great country of ours."

Retired Army Major General Marks told CNN's Erin Burnett, that he didn't want to speculate why Harward turned down the job, but said turmoil in the White House was likely a contributing factor.
A Republican official told CNN that Harward made it a condition of taking the job that he could form his own team.  In the end, he didn't feel that was the case.  A senior Republican familiar with the process added that "a question of clarity regarding the lines of authority" was central in Harward's decision... "I wouldn't call it a disagreement as much as questions that could not be resolved to his comfort level."

After a 30-year military career, Harward became chief executive of defense giant Lockheed Martin's United Arab Emirates division.  He was familiar with the role of national security adviser having previously worked in the National Security Council's counterterrorism office from 2003 to 2005 during President Bush's administration.

Harward was at the top of lists for potential replacements, alongside with retired Army Gen. David Petraeus, who pleaded guilty in 2015 to mishandling classified information after he shared sensitive material with a woman with whom he was having an affair.

Friday, February 17, 2017

Andrew Puzder

Andrew Puzder was Trump’s choice for Labor Secretary.  He’s CEO of a chain of fast food restaurants that includes Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s.  In 1989, he helped write an anti-choice Missouri law that became a landmark challenge to Roe v. Wade and paved the way for states to restrict access to abortion.  Puzder has been critical of government regulations, including efforts to raise the minimum wage.
Recently, Puzder explained: "After careful consideration and discussions with my family, I am withdrawing my nomination for Secretary of Labor.  While I won't be serving in the administration, I fully support the President and his highly qualified team."
Congressional Democrats called on Trump to rescind Puzder's nomination, and some Senate Republicans issued a similar plea.  It was revealed that Puzder employed an undocumented immigrant for several years (for which he just paid back taxes) and faced scrutiny over previous allegations that he abused his former wife.  His ex-wife has since recanted those allegations.
We can demand a Secretary of Labor who will support a healthy and safe workplace, a living wage, and equity at work, but an unworthy Republican Party will continue to make that goal difficult because they control the Senate and House.  Consequently, we’ll be stuck with a parade of unworthy Trump nominees.
The Senate Republicans will approve more of Trump’s cabinet nominees, and it will be a disaster for America’s families.  Sadly, Wall Street will have it’s way in Washington like never before.

It is up to every citizen who cares about the future of our county to fight to put working class citizens ahead of corporate profits.

Peaceful demonstrations; factual, civil, and persuasive letters to the editors of small town newspapers are very economical and effective way to get our message across to those who have been misinformed.  

Thursday, February 16, 2017


Reportedly, the Justice Department warned Trump in January that Mike Flynn misled officials regarding his communications with the Russian ambassador and was potentially vulnerable to blackmail by the Russians.  Concerns were raised after Flynn claimed he didn’t discuss the sanctions being imposed by former President Obama's administration in retaliation for Russia's interference in the election.  Flynn a retired Lieutenant General head of the Defense Intelligence Agency under Obama until he was forced out.

The message was delivered by then-Acting Attorney General Sally Yates.  FBI Director James Clapper and CIA Director John Brennan, were in agreement that the White House should be alerted.

Trump knew about Flynn's contact with the Russian ambassador at least since January.  Why didn’t he act sooner?  Did Trump authorize Mike Flynn to tell the Russians to ignore President Obama’s sanctions before the inauguration?   And, what other contacts did Flynn and other Trump aides have with Russia before the election?  

Intelligence reports have shown that Flynn was in touch with Russian ambassador during the 2016 campaign, and that communications between the two continued after Nov. 8.  The Russian ambassador has even confirmed having contacts with Flynn before and after the election, but has  declined to say what was discussed during those contacts.

As the Republican candidate for president did Donald Trump know that Mike Flynn or other Trump aides know, who was cooperating with Russia by interfering in the 2016 election on Trump's behalf?

These questions won't go away, because they are a reminder of the Watergate scandal.  As Richard Nixon learned many years ago, that coverups can make things much worse.  The FBI and the Senate Intelligence Community are investigating.  Investigative reporters and some European countries are sharing intelligence on the case.  The truth will eventually be revealed, but I’m predicting Trump won’t be impeached.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Grave Concerns

Congressional Republicans met behind closed doors to expressed grave concerns about dismantling the Affordable Care Act on the timetable demanded by President Trump.

An audio recording of a session at their annual retreat, obtained by The New York Times, shows Republicans in disarray, far from agreement on health policy, and still searching for something to replace former President Obama’s health care law.  While their leaders called for swift action to rescue consumers from the Affordable Care Act, some Republicans worry about potential pitfalls.

Representative Tom McClintock of California warned: “We had better be sure that we are prepared to live with the market being created, because “that’s going to be called Trumpcare.”  He added: “Republicans will own it lock, stock and barrel, and we’ll be judged on that.”

Congressional Democrats formulated the Affordable Care Act seven years ago.  Their primary goal was to provide health insurance to more people, and the Obama administration went to great lengths to enrolled millions of people in Medicaid or private health plans.

Congressional Republicans promised that none of the 20 million people who gained coverage through “Obamacare” will lose it if the law is repealed, even as they lift its mandates and penalties, pull back the tax increases that pay for it and pledge to enact a new program that will be cheaper for taxpayers and consumers.

In their private session, the recording of which was first reported on by The Washington Post, Republicans revealed that they understood the predicament they had largely created for themselves.

Republicans say they can get the same results for less money and without a statutory mandate that most Americans have insurance.  But without that requirement, budget analysts say, it will be difficult for Republicans to achieve coverage gains as large as those achieved under the Affordable Care Act.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Mike Flynn Resigns

President Donald Trump's National Security Adviser, Mike Flynn has resigned.  Apparently, he had discussed US sanctions on Russia with the Russian ambassador before Trump took office. 

I credit Senator Al Franken for Flynn’s resignation.  He pointed out on CNN: "Either he was lying about not having discussed that, or he forgot.  I don't think you want a guy who'd forget that."
An aide close to Flynn had said, that he has "no recollection of discussing sanctions, but couldn't be certain that the topic never came up."

Franken called for an investigation into Trump's business ties with Russia, and complained that he still has not released his personal income tax returns.  Franken commented: "He's got a bit of a Putin crush, and I want to know how much of that is tied maybe to financials." 

Franken called for an independent counsel to investigate Trump, or a probe led by Republican Senator Lindsey Graham and  Democratic Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, who are respectively the chairman and the ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime and Terrorism.

He suggested: "There's going to have to be an independent investigation into the Trump campaign and the Trump administration's relationship to Russia.  Russia interfered in this campaign.  We know that, although Trump denied it for a long time.  We have not seen the President's income tax.  His son said a few years ago that an inordinate amount of money was coming in from Russia investing in them."

Franken explained:"We need something transparent and we need an investigation because we don't know what he owes Russia.  We don't know how many Russian oligarchs are invested in his business.  He has sidled up to Putin in so many ways."

Mike Flynn was an advocate of President Trump's plans to ease the hostility in our relations Russia.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Trump is the Exception

 According to Robert Reich the reasons the framers of our Constitution established the Electoral College and reject the popular vote was first and formost to stop a demagogue from becoming president.

At the Constitutional Convention, Elbridge Gerry argued against a popular election for president because the people would be misled by a few designing men.  In Federalist No. 68, Alexander Hamilton wrote that the electors would prevent those with talents for low intrigue, and the little arts of popularity from becoming president.  They would also stop anyone who would convulse the community with any extraordinary or violent movements.

Secondly, our founding fathers wanted to stop foreign interference in an election.  The CIA has provided incontrovertible evidence that Russia interfered in the presidential election in order to help Donald Trump.   Furthermore, Trump has business entanglements in Russia and other foreign countries, the extent to which are unknown because Trump has not released his tax returns. 

Thirdly, those who signed the constitution wanted to prevent poor administration of government.  In Federalist No. 68, Hamilton wrote that the true test of a good government is its aptitude and tendency to produce a good administration, and for that reason the electors should be able to estimate the share which the executive in every government must necessarily have in its good or ill administration. 

President Trump has no government experience and his temperament revealed both from his personal history and his campaign are arguably inconsistent with good government.  The chief ethics officers of the George W. Bush administration insisted that Republican electors shouldn’t choose Trump because he won't put his assets into a blind trust. 

Modern-day conservatives favor so-called “originalist” understandings of the Constitution and look to the original texts of our founding documents for guidance.  However, this time they’ve made an exception.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Majority Disapproval

A Gallup Poll conducted on January 30 and 31 found that 55 percent of Americans disapprove of Trump’s temporary ban for people from the seven predominantly Muslim countries; 58 percent disapprove of his indefinite suspension of the Syrian refugee program; and 60 percent disapprove of his building the wall on the Mexican border.

Overall, 52 percent of Americans give Trump a negative job rating.  Trump reached majority disapproval in just 8 days into his presidency, which is the earliest any president has reached majority disapproval since Gallup started this tracking poll in 1945.

A CNN/ORC poll reported also found a majority of 53 percent of citizens disapprove of the way Trump is handling his job.  That poll also reported that overall, 44 percent approve of the way he's handling the job, which is seven points below the previous low-point of 51 percent. 

Partisanship is the sharpest divider in opinions on Trump’s approval rating (90 percent of Republicans approve vs. 10 percent of Democrats).

Several specific actions that Trump took in his first two weeks are also meeting with majority opposition.  Most Americans oppose the travel restrictions put in place by executive order, and 55 percent say they see it as an attempt to ban Muslims from entering the US.  Further, 6o percent oppose Trump's plan to build a wall along the border with Mexico.

The public is more closely divided on whether the travel ban order makes the US safer or protects American values, two arguments the Trump administration has put forth in support of the order.  About 41 percent agree with the Trump administration's contention that the ban makes the US safer from terrorism, while more 46 percent say it makes the US less safe from terrorism and another 12 percent say it doesn't make a difference. 

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Keystone Pipeline

The Keystone XL pipeline was only going to require 35 permanent jobs, after being constructed.

President Obama explained: “As a policy matter, my government believes that we should judge this pipeline based on whether or not it accelerates climate change or whether it helps the America people with the their energy cost and their gas prices.  And I have to constantly push back against this idea that somehow the Keystone Pipeline is either this massive jobs bill for the United States or is somehow lowering gas prices.

“Understand what this project is, it is providing the ability of Canada to pump their oil, send it through our land, down to the Gulf where it will be sold everywhere else.  And it doesn’t have an impact on U.S. gas prices.”

President Trump and congressional Republicans are ignoring the possibility that the Keystone pipeline could damage the Ogallala Aquifer located beneath portions of South Dakota, Nebraska, Wyoming, Colorado, Kansas, Oklahoma, New Mexico, and Texas. 

Tar sands oil is one of the most toxic fuels on the planet.  The sand needs to be heat with toxic additives to extract it from the ground.  That process creates three times more carbon emissions than conventional oil.

Oil pipes rupture all the time and the oil in the Keystone pipeline would be flowing over an aquifer which provides clean water for corn, soybeans, and cattle.  Once crude oil is in the earth and aquifer it can’t be clean up.

Legal action was taken by a 100 landowners in Nebraska, who filed a lawsuit regarding property rights and imminent domain.  Those 100 landowners are mostly farmers, who remain very worried about a secure source of water for their agriculture, and ranching businesses.

Basically, our country would be taking all the risk and getting none of the rewards.

Friday, February 10, 2017

Coretta Scott King’s Letter

 “Thank you for allowing me this opportunity to express my strong opposition to the nomination of Jefferson Sessions for a federal district judgeship for the Southern District of Alabama.  My longstanding commitment which I shared with my husband, Martin, to protect and enhance the rights of black Americans, rights which include equal access to the democratic process, compels me to testify today.

“Civil rights leaders, including my husband and Albert Turner, have fought long and hard to achieve free and unfettered access to the ballot box.  Mr. Sessions has used the awesome power of his office to chill the free exercise of the vote by black citizens in the district he now seeks to serve as a federal judge. This simply cannot be allowed to happen.  Mr. Sessions' conduct as a US Attorney, from his politically-motivated voting fraud prosecutions to his indifference toward criminal violations of civil rights laws, indicated that he lacks the temperament, fairness and judgment to be a federal judge.

“The Voting Rights Act was, and still is, vitally important to the future of democracy in the United States.  I was privileged to join Martin and many others during the Selma to Montgomery march for voting rights in 1965. Martin was particularly impressed by the determination to get the franchise of blacks in Selma and neighboring Perry County.  As he wrote, ‘Certainly no community in the history of the Negro struggle has responded with the enthusiasm of Selma and her neighboring town of Marion.  Where Birmingham depended largely upon students and unemployed adults to participate in non-violent protest of the denial of the franchise, Selma has involved fully 10 per cent of the Negro population in active demonstrations, and at least half of the Negro population of Marion was arrested on one day.’  Martin was referring of course to a group that included the defendants recently prosecuted for assisting elderly and illiterate blacks to exercise that franchise.  In fact, Martin anticipated from the depth of their commitment twenty years ago, that a united political organization would remain in Perry County long after the other marchers had left.  This organization, the Perry County Civic League, started my Mr. Turner, Mr. Hogue, and others, as Martin predicted, continued ‘to direct the drive for votes and other rights.’  In the years since the Voting Rights Act was passed, black Americans in Marion, Selma and elsewhere have made important strides in their struggle to participate actively in the electoral process. The number of blacks registered to vote in key Southern states has doubled since 1965.  This would not have been possible without the Voting Rights Act.

“However, blacks still fall far short of having equal participation in the electoral process.  Particularly in the South, efforts continue to be made to deny blacks access to the polls, even where blacks constitute the majority of the voters.  It has been a long, up-hill struggle to keep alive the vital legislation that protects the most fundamental right to vote.  A person who has exhibited so much hostility to the enforcement of those laws, and thus, to the exercise of those rights by black people should not be elevated to the federal bench.

“The irony of Mr. Sessions' nomination is that, if confirmed, he will be given life tenure for doing with a federal prosecution what the local sheriffs accomplished twenty years ago with clubs and cattle prods.  Twenty years ago, when we marched from Selma to Montgomery, the fear of voting was real, as the broken bones and bloody heads in Selma and Marion bore witness.  As my husband wrote at the them, ‘it was not just a sick imagination that conjured up the vision of a public official, sworn to uphold the law, who forced an inhuman march upon hundreds of Negro children. Who ordered the Rev. James Bevel to be chained to his sickbed, who clubbed a Negro woman registrant, and who callously inflicted repeated brutalities and indignities upon nonviolent Negroes peacefully petitioning for their constitutional right to vote.’

“Free exercise of voting rights is so fundamental to American democracy that we cannot tolerate any form of infringement of those rights.  Of all the groups who have been disenfranchised in our nation's history, none has struggled longer or suffered more in the attempt to win the vote than black citizens.  No group has had access to the ballot box denied so persistently and intently.  Over the past century, a broad array of schemes have been used in attempts to bloc the black vote.  The range of techniques developed with the purpose of repressing black voting rights run the gamut from the straightforward application of brutality against black citizens who tried to vote, to such legalized frauds as grandfather clause exclusions and rigged literacy tests.

“The actions taken by Mr. Sessions in regard to the 1984 voting fraud prosecutions represent just one more technique used to intimidate black voters and thus deny them this most precious franchise.  The investigations into the absentee voting process were conducted only in the black belt counties where black had finally achieved political power in local government.  Whites had been using the absentee process to their advantage for years, without incident.  Then, when blacks, realizing its strength, began to use it with success, criminal investigations were begun.
In these investigations, Mr. Sessions, a US Attorney, exhibited an eagerness to bring to trial and convict three leaders of the Perry County Civic League including Albert Turner, despite evidence clearly demonstrating their innocence of any wrongdoing.  Furthermore, in initiating the case, Mr. Sessions ignored allegations of similar behavior by whites, choosing instead to chill the exercise of the franchise by blacks in his misguided investigation.  In fact, Mr. Sessions sought to punish older black civil rights activists, advisers and colleagues of my husband, who had been key figures in the civil rights movement in the 1960's.  These were persons who, realizing the potential of the absentee vote among blacks, had learned to use the process within the bounds of legality and had taught others to do the same.  The only sin they committed was being too successful in gaining votes.

“The scope and character of the investigations conducted by Mr. Sessions also warrant grave concern.  Witnesses were selectively chosen in accordance with the favorability of their testimony to the government's case.  Also, the prosecution illegally withheld from the defense critical statements made by witnesses.  Witnesses who did testify were pressured and intimidated into submitting the ‘correct’ testimony.  Many elderly blacks were visited multiple times by the FBI who then hauled them over 180 miles by bus to a grand jury in Mobile when they could more easily have testified at a grand jury just twenty miles away in Selma.  These voters, and others, have announced they are now never going to vote again.

“I urge you to consider carefully Mr. Sessions' conduct in these matters. Such a review, I believe, raises serious questions about his commitment to the protection of the voting rights of all American citizens and consequently his fair and unbiased judgment regarding this fundamental right.  When the circumstances and facts surrounding the indictments of Al Turner, his wife, Evelyn, and Spencer Hogue are analyzed, it becomes clear that the motivation was political, and the result frightening -- the wide-scale chill of the exercise of the ballot for blacks, who suffered so much to receive that right in the first place.  Therefore, it is my strongly-held view that the appointment of Jefferson Sessions to the federal bench would irreparably damage the work of my husband, Al Turner and countless others who risked their lives and freedom over the past twenty years to ensure equal participation in our democratic system.

“The exercise of the franchise is an essential means by which our citizens ensure that those who are governing will be responsible.  My husband called it the number one civil right.  The denial of access to the ballot box ultimately results in the denial of other fundamental rights.  For, it is only when the poor and disadvantaged are empowered that they are able to participate actively in the solutions to their own problems.

“We still have a long way to go before we can say that minorities no longer need be concerned about discrimination at the polls.  Blacks, Hispanics, Native Americans and Asian Americans are grossly underrepresented at every level of government in America.  If we are going to make our timeless dream of justice through democracy a reality, we must take every step possible to ensure that the spirit and intent of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and the 15th Amendment to the Constitution is honored.  The federal courts hold a unique position in our constitutional system, ensuring that minorities and other citizens without political power have a forum in which to vindicate their rights.  Because of this unique role, it is essential that the people selected to be federal judges respect the basic tenets of our legal system: respect for individual rights and a commitment to equal justice for all.

“The integrity of the courts, and thus, the rights they protect, can only be maintained if citizens feel confident that those selected as federal judges will be able to judge with fairness others holding differing views.

“I do not believe Jefferson Sessions possesses the requisite judgment, competence and sensitivity to the rights guaranteed by the federal civil rights laws to qualify for appointment to the federal district court.  Based on his record, I believe his confirmation would have a devastating effect not only on the judicial system in Alabama, but also on the progress we have made everywhere toward fulfilling my husband's dream that he envisioned over twenty years ago.  I therefore urge the Senate Judiciary Committee to deny his confirmation.

“I thank you for allowing me to share my views.”

Thursday, February 09, 2017

A Rare Rebuke

On the Senate floor, Massachusetts Democratic Senator Elizabeth Warren clashed with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell after he determined that she had violated a Senate rule against impugning another senator.

This rarely used Senate rule resulted in Senator Warren being barred from speaking on the Senate floor until the debate over Trump’s nominee for attorney general Republican Senator Jeff Sessions of Alabama ended.

Senator Warren was in the process of reading from a 1986 letter Coretta Scott King, the widow of Martin Luther King Jr., had written to Sen. Strom Thurmond critical of Sessions who was then a nominee to be a federal judge.

Republican Senator Steve Daines of Montana was presiding over the Senate at the time.  He told Senator Warren: "The senator is reminded that it is a violation of Rule 19 of the standing rules of the Senate to impugn another senator or senators any conduct or motive unworthy or unbecoming a senator."

Warren responded: "I don't think I quite understand.  I'm simply reading what she wrote about what the nomination of Sessions to be a federal court judge meant and what it would mean in history for her."

Daines explained: "You stated that a sitting senator is a disgrace to the Department of Justice."

Warren continued, until Senate Majority Leader McConnell went to the floor and told Warren she was in violation of the rule.  Warren asked for a roll call vote on her appeal of the decision but it was defeated.  But, she added: "They can shut me up, but they can't change the truth."

Sessions is one of eight nominees Senate Democrats have attempted to defeat.
Tomorrow, I’ll post the letter Coretta Scott King wrote in 1986, to Sen. Strom Thurmond criticizing Jeff Sessions, who was then a nominee to be a federal judge.

Wednesday, February 08, 2017

Government Intervention

Ronald Reagan claimed: “government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem.”

Government includes police officers who are protecting our communities, and the servicemen and women who are defending us abroad.  Government is the roads we drive on and the police that enforce speed limits to keep us safe.  Government ensures that coal mines adhere to safety standards and that oil spills are cleaned up by the companies that caused them.

During the Great Depression FDR and a Democratic controlled Congress recognized that senior citizens were committing suicide at an alarming rate. They devise a solution entitle Social Security, which became a very popular program.  It demonstrates that the claim: "government is the problem," is untrue. 

Social Security was instituted 81 years ago, and since then the suicide rate among senior citizens has dropped dramatically.  Today, white men have the highest suicide rate of 29 per 100,000 over all.  Before Social Security, 50 percent of seniors lived in poverty.  Today, only 1 in every 7 seniors live in poverty.  Americans, like Social Security, because it has always paid out benefits.  It works very well, but if you’re a right wing Republican ideologue, who hates government, it doesn’t support your agenda.

Republicans continue to argue government intervention is usually inefficient.  And that it restricts individual freedom and dampens individual initiative.  We have had a welfare system that sometimes tended to discouraged people from taking responsibility for their own upward mobility. 

Some citizens insist that all of government is inherently bad.  They ignore the fact that in our democracy, government is us.  We the people have the power to choose our leaders and change our laws, and shape our own destiny.

Winning the Electoral College vote and not the popular vote isn’t actually choosing our leader.

Tuesday, February 07, 2017

Fundamentally Disagree

Former President Obama criticized President Donald Trump's executive order curbing immigration.  Kevin Lewis, a spokesman for our former president said: "The President fundamentally disagrees with the notion of discriminating against individuals because of their faith or religion."

The statement also rejected the comparison between a 2011 temporary immigration order by Obama that halted Iraqis coming to the US and the broader ban by the Trump administration on citizens of seven Muslim-majority countries.

Former presidents usually avoid criticizing their successor, but Obama's relationship with Trump is different.  Apparently, our former president will stay engaged and outspoken on political action.

Trump's order temporarily banned immigration from Iran, Iraq, Syria, Sudan, Libya, Yemen and Somalia and indefinitely stopped Syrian refugees from coming to the United States.  Our current White House compared Trump's action to what Obama did in 2011, by claiming "he banned visas for refugees from Iraq for six months." 

Actually, Obama’s ban was in response to two Iraqi refugees implicated in a bomb making scheme and it didn’t outright ban refugees from coming to our country, but it instead increase the amount of vetting each Iraqi refugee received.

In the wake of angry protests that occurred across the our country, Trump said that America will "continue to show compassion to those fleeing oppression" but will "do so while protecting our own citizens and border."

However, the primary perpetrators of all major fatal terrorist attacks have mostly been American-born citizens or permanent legal residents originally from countries not included in the ban.

Of the 19 people who hijacked four planes on September 11, 2001, 15 of them were from Saudi Arabia.  Two were from the United Arab Emirates, one was from Egypt, and one was from Lebanon.  None of those Muslim countries are included on the list of banned countries.

Monday, February 06, 2017

The Empire State

I discovered the following article on the webpage of the Oneonta Daily Star. The author of the article wasn’t listed.

“Among the myriad proposals Gov. Andrew Cuomo has been pitching in his roadshow of State of the State addresses, we find the one he calls ‘Democracy Project’ particularly compelling.

“The governor wants to allow early voting and have automatic and same-day voter registration.  Well, it’s about time.

“Sadly, it is also about lethargy, sloth and a marked disinterest in democracy among far too many potential voters in this state.

“New York routinely ranks among the worst states in voter turnout, according to statistics from the U.S. Election Assistance Commission.  It’s bad enough during a presidential election year, but in off-year plebiscites, it’s damned near criminal.

“In 2014, we ranked 46th in the nation in turnout of the voting age population.  Only 29.1 percent of those over 18 bothered to vote in that November’s election.  In New York City, only 20 percent cast a ballot.

“Ask your typical New York state non-voter if he or she staying away from the polls was a matter of ignorance or apathy, and you’re liable to hear this: ‘I don’t know, and I don’t care.’

“We suspect that part of the reason for the low turnout is that New York is a reliably blue - or Democratic Party - state.  If folks don’t think their vote is going to change the outcome, they are probably going to find an excuse to stay home on election day.  This, of course, ignores all of the other races going on down the ballot.

“Election day is a big part of the problem.  New York is one of only 11 states that does not allow early voting in the days before the official election day, and the governor is absolutely right to propose doing something to get us off that list.

“‘These proposals will modernize and open up our election system, making it easier for more voters to participate in the process and helping to make a more fair, more just and more representative New York for all,’ Cuomo said in a news release.

“Many of us are rightfully critical of states - all with Republican legislatures and governors - that have in recent years attempted to curtail early voting and instituted other policies that discourage voter turnout.  However, with New Yorkers able to vote on only one day - with the exception of absentee ballots - we should look in the mirror.

“We suppose the case could be made that only those who take enough of an active interest in our republic to get themselves to the voting place should be the ones who determine our leaders.  But it’s not a very strong case.

“Citizens can already register to vote at the Department of Motor Vehicles, but a lot of elderly people and many citizens who live in New York City don’t drive.  Although polling places are open until 9 p.m., it’s still difficult for those with jobs and kids and other challenges to get out and vote.

“Being able to register and vote on the same would be a big help.  Those who fret about voter fraud have little to worry about.  Other states have found that it is not a major or even minor problem.

“New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman supports Cuomo’s proposals, and adds one of his own that makes a lot of sense.  He wants to consolidate New York’s three-primary schedule into one day.

“Other than our legislators being comfortable with a system in which they get re-elected at an alarming rate, we see no reason why they should not support Cuomo’s and Schneiderman’s proposals in the current session.”

Sunday, February 05, 2017

Instigating Violence

Violence protesters prompted University of California at Berkeley officials to cancel a talk by Milo Yiannopoulos, the polarizing editor of Breitbart News out of safety concerns.
UC Berkeley Police Chief Margo Bennet told reporters: “I do not believe our students were involved in the vandalism and the violent behavior that occurred.  This was a group of agitators who were masked up, throwing rocks, commercial grade fireworks and Molotov cocktails at officers.  Those were not our students.  That’s not our students’ behavior.”
However, Yiannopoulos blamed left-wingers, and President Trump claimed on Twitter:  “Amid an apparently organized violent attack and destruction of property at the Martin Luther King Student Union, the University of California Police Department determined that it was necessary to evacuate Milo Yiannopoulos from the campus and to cancel tonight’s scheduled 8 p.m. performance.  The violence was instigated by a group of about 150 masked agitators who came onto campus and interrupted an otherwise non-violent protest.”
Officials said a smaller group was dressed in black and in hooded sweatshirts and showed up as night fell to break windows with metal barricades, throw smoke bombs and flares and start a large bonfire outside the building with a diesel generator.
Trump blamed the University for denying Milo Yiannopoulos of Breitbart News the right to free speech.  Actually, the University opened its largest auditorium to the hate-monger.
There’s growing evidence that the agitators who caused the speech to be cancelled were connected to right-wing groups, such as those spawned by Yiannopoulos.  Their objective was to create an incident that would give Trump justification to blame the University, the media, and the left.

In the 1930’s, Hitler used the same strategy of fomenting violence, and then blaming people who criticized him for creating the violence, thereby building up support. 

Saturday, February 04, 2017

Pete Buttigieg

On January 19, 2017, the “New Republic published the following column written by Graham Vyse.

“With their party now decimated at the national and state level, Democrats cling to one refuge for promoting progressive policies in the Trump era: Cities.  They still control two-thirds of America’s biggest ones, and mayors nationwide are vowing to defy the new president’s agenda by shielding undocumented immigrants from deportation, pushing their own efforts to fight climate change, and working to preserve their citizens’ healthcare even as the Affordable Care Act faces repeal.  Cities are where Democrats can still prove their muster, lead by example, and offer Americans an alternative vision under Republican rule.

“That’s part of the appeal of Pete Buttigieg, the 35-year-old mayor of South Bend, Indiana (pop. 101,000), who was a late entry this month in the campaign to chair the Democratic National Committee.  A gay Afghanistan veteran, Harvard graduate, and Rhodes Scholar, he says he’ll turn around his party like he’s turning around his Rust Belt city by promoting progressivism in places where it’s in short supply.  Former DNC Chair Howard Dean calls him ‘the wild card’ in this year’s race, and he’s a rising star nationally, promoted by President Barack Obama and hailed by New York Times columnist Frank Bruni as potentially the first gay president.

“You could see the appeal Wednesday night, when Buttigieg stood out with poise and presence at a George Washington University debate of the DNC chair candidates sponsored by the Huffington Post.

“The forum did nothing to heighten the contrast between the two perceived frontrunners - Minnesota Representative Keith Ellison and Labor Secretary Tom Perez, who refrained from challenging each other and raised few discernible differences between each other.  But Buttigieg set himself apart from the other second-tier hopefuls: South Carolina Democratic Party Chairman Jaime Harrison, New Hampshire Democratic Party Chairman Ray Buckley, Idaho Democratic Party Executive Director Sally Boynton Brown, and former Fox News commentator Jehmu Greene.”

Friday, February 03, 2017

Dan Gomes

The Oneonta Daily Star has published the following letter, that was submitted by Dan Gomes of Schenevus.

“Trump’s fact-free populist rhetoric may have won him the White House, but it looks like the horse he rode in on is being outed for what it really was — a Trojan horse, wheeled in by fawning foot soldiers, but, in its belly a cargo of swamp-building CEOs, Wall Street power brokers, and a wannabe female Svengali.

“After years of poorly answered attacks on main street media by the far-right, which served to till the fields for news gatekeepers like AM talk radio and FOX News, the time was ripe.

“Along came The Donald on his dark horse, with his Obama-bashing, fire-spitting Twitter account, and the Republican tent went up in flames.  Desperate and out of the running, Republicans chose to make a deal with the devil.

“Now that he is president … Trump’s obsessive-seeming outrages about the news media’s alleged schemes to delegitimize his presidency are in fact just a continuation of his long-cherished “I know you are but what am I?” schoolyard tactic to, in turn, delegitimize the media.  It’s a maneuver that has served him well in the past — heaven help us.

“Example: If caught lying, just brand your opponent an even bigger liar every chance you get!

“But I don’t want a serial-liar president — one who first needs to be interpreted by professional sycophants in order to know what to take figuratively and what to take literally; or what weight to give facts vs. 'alternative facts,' or when to doubt or believe science … intelligence agencies … the media … your lying eyes; or when strongly held principles are genuine and not just political posturing.'

“Cynics will say; 'Then doesn’t that eliminate most politicians?  That’s why I voted for Trump!'

“Perhaps … but soon, many voters will certainly be putting 'billionaire salesman' back on their DISQUALIFIED LIST.”

Thursday, February 02, 2017

Disparaging the Press

Hitler’s Minister of Propaganda, Joseph Goebbels insisted: “A lie, repeated often enough, will end up as truth.”  

Oppressors need to control the press in order to deceive citizens.  It’s been used by Republican owned news media for decades.  Congressional Republicans and Trump supporters continue to make deceitful claims about our economy that aren’t supported by facts.  The truth is that while they’ve been telling hardworking, middle-class families that the reason they’re getting economically squeezed was because of an African-American welfare queen was seen driving a Cadillac, or undocumented Mexican women are having anchor babies, or because poor “white trash” aren’t willing to work; they’ve been promoting policies that protect powerful special interests and those who are at the very top of the economic ladder.

In 2004, Ron Suskind an official in the Bush administration bragged t0 “The New York Times”: “We’re an empire now and when we act, we create our own reality.

Donald Trump’s strategy is to denigrate and disparage the press by convincing the public that the press is engaged in a conspiracy against him.  He uses his tweets, rallies, and videos to make himself appear to be the only credible source of public information. 

Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson, the former chief of staff to Secretary of State Colin Powell, was asked his opinion of former Vice President Cheney by Chris Wallace.  He answered: “I’ve been searching for a single word that would describe Dick Cheney, and I’m afraid the only one I can think of is insanity.  It’s a deliberate.  It’s a methodical.  It’s often lucid insanity.  But it’s insanity nonetheless.  He can’t recognize reality.  He can’t recognize the truth.”

President Bush left office with an approval rating was 22 percent, and Cheney’s was 13 percent.  Trump has replaced Cheney as the personification of Republican deceitfulness.

Wednesday, February 01, 2017

Muslims Banned

Trump has banned more than 134 million people from seven Muslim-majority countries from entering our country for at least the next 90 days by executive order.  It’s likely just the first step toward establishing a broader ban.  His executive order bars all people from Iraq, Syria, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen. 

When asked what criteria the administration will consider as it looks to expand the ban beyond the initial seven countries, a Trump representative simply said the "mandate is to keep America safe.--"Not going to take any risks."

Under the Obama administration those countries were named in a 2016 law concerning immigration visas as "countries of concern."  However, Trump’s order exempts diplomats and members of international organizations.  The order also directs the secretary of Homeland Security to conduct a 30-day review to determine which countries don’t provide "adequate information" for its citizens to be issued visas.

During the primary campaign, Trump called for banning all Muslims, before shifting to banning individuals from countries with terrorist links, but never specified the countries.  

Trump also ordered stopping the admission of all refugees for the next four months.  During that time, Trump's Secretary of State will review the screening process for refugees.  The process is already rigorous and often takes successful refugee applicants at least two years to be admitted into the United States.

Trump cut the number of refugees who would eventually be admitted in 2017 to 50,000 from the 110,000 cap established by former President Obama.  He issued an edict that the order for prioritizing refugees for entry be based on religious persecution, "provided that the religion of the individual is a minority religion."  That would open the door for Christian refugees from Muslim-majority countries to be accepted, while Muslims fleeing those countries would be excluded.