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Monday, January 30, 2017

Here I am revealed to be the stupidest genius you'll ever meet.



On January 29 I posted this comment on Facebook:
A striking facet of the comments defending the President's immigration order is how many of them are reduced to just saying, "Hey, it's legal."
After a bit, an acquaintance from my high school days responded:
Well, I'll just ask you, since you are very intelligent, articulate, and an educated political genius (I actually mean that): while I am just a "deplorable" simple businessman, what is the difference now and when the Carter, Clinton, and Obama administrations put sanctions and limits on the same countries when our country's safety was on the line? Explain to us how there may be a better way to initiate a plan to stop terror from foreigners against the LBGT, Christian, and basic folk communities without first putting a temporary ban on the very countries these former Presidents did ? We have enough internal messes to clean up without compounding terror from the outside. And, why won't all the protesters volunteer to put their "cause" where their actions are and allow just one refugee into their home? We are talking 50,000-100,000 refugees while there are over a million protesting. That should be easy, shouldn't it? There were over 300K travelers yesterday and 109 were inconvenienced. I think the victums of Orlando and San Bernadino amounted to that many and I bet they wished their last day was just an inconvenience, don't you? You have to start somewhere, where do we start to fix this mess?
It was past midnight and I never tackle had questions at that hour. I promised to give the matter some thought. After sleeping on it, I wrote this set of responses this morning.


Dear Mark:


Thanks very much for your questions. As I remarked last night, acknowledging receipt of them, your first sentence is pretty much cancelled out by all the ones that follow.


As an exercise in false modesty, however, it’s aces! It tees me up nicely as an effete, head-in-the-clouds sort, spinning out elegant thoughts in complete sentences that fall neatly into linked paragraphs, all the while completely missing the hard lessons of the real world you face every day.


I’ve spent much of my life brushing that sort of thing off, though your formulation that you both are- and aren’t- smarter than I is artfully done. And I am sure you are right!


As we have only had two exchanges of view since last October, I feel confident neither one of us has much of any idea who the other has become since high school. Before you asked me to add you as a friend on Facebook, I hadn’t seen or spoken with you in over forty years.


So if you choose to apply the term “deplorable” in the context of appraising my intellectual capacities vis-a-vis you, that’s your lookout. I have no idea if you are or aren’t.

Back last fall, when people used to get in my face about that moniker, I always asked which of the phobias Mrs Clinton ticked off they renounced. They all stuck with the full meal deal.


Both times you have addressed me since we reconnected, it has been to chide me for the wrongness of my views on a political issue.


I realize that, because I am not a genius, I phrased my comment poorly.


The point I was aiming at was that advocates for the President’s executive order on immigration can’t seem to come up with any better policy rationale than that it’s legal.


There are loftier ways to consider the worth of a policy than that. More American ways. More Biblically-guided ways, too.


Lots of things have been justified because they were “legal.”


Slavery. Denying women the vote, or licensure to the professions. Jim Crow. Interning hundreds of thousands of Japanese-Americans and looking the other way as whites glommed onto their property without compensation.


America started using torture and waterboarding during the Philippines Insurrection and the federal government made a compelling case that it was legal. After World War II the federal government demanded and got the execution of Japanese soldiers who’d used torture and waterboarding, and made a compelling case that it wasn’t legal. Sixty years later, the federal government decided it was legal again.


Now the government seems to straddle the point, content to pour fortunes into Gitmo as prisoners there enter their second decade of captivity without charges or trial.

The Secretaries of Defense and Homeland Security say torture and waterboarding is illegal, and their boss says he will listen to them, but he also says it’s legal and by the way, he’s commander-in-chief.


ANYTHING can be made “legal,” as the Lord Chancellor explained in Gilbert & Sullivan’s Iolanthe, after all the fairies married British peers:


Queen. It seems they have helped themselves, and pretty freely, too! (After a pause.) You have all incurred death; but I can’t slaughter the whole company! And yet (unfolding a scroll) the law is clear – every fairy must die who marries a mortal!

Lord Chancellor. Allow me, as an old Equity draftsman, to make a suggestion. The subtleties of the legal mind are equal to the emergency. The thing is really quite simple – the insertion of a single word will do it. Let it stand that every fairy shall die who doesn’t marry a mortal, and there you are, out of your difficulty at once!

Queen. We like your humour. Very well! (Altering the MS. in pencil.) Private Willis!

Sentry. (coming forward). Ma’am!

Queen. To save my life, it is necessary that I marry at once. How should you like to be a fairy guardsman?

Sentry. Well, ma’am, I don’t think much of the British soldier who wouldn’t ill-convenience himself to save a female in distress.


President Nixon put it less elegantly in 1977:


Well, when the president does it, that means it is not illegal.


Your point, Mark, seems to boil down to “It’s a big problem and the President says fix it this way, and that should be good enough for damn near everybody but you, Thompson, you beebling old fool-osopher!”


I disagree. I’d apply a simpler test the President’s order, the one I learned in Rotary:


Is it the truth?
Is it fair to all concerned?
Will it build goodwill and better friendships?
Will it be beneficial to all concerned?


And on all four counts, I find the President’s order fails.


But on to the task you set for me! Let’s begin with your last question:


-You have to start somewhere, where do we start to fix this mess?


I’d start by crafting an executive order that, on its face, works.


The President’s version places a temporary ban on US entry by nationals of seven countries: Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen. The order begins,


Section 1. Purpose. The visa-issuance process plays a crucial role in detecting individuals with terrorist ties and stopping them from entering the United States. Perhaps in no instance was that more apparent than the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, when State Department policy prevented consular officers from properly scrutinizing the visa applications of several of the 19 foreign nationals who went on to murder nearly 3,000 Americans. And while the visa-issuance process was reviewed and amended after the September 11 attacks to better detect would-be terrorists from receiving visas, these measures did not stop attacks by foreign nationals who were admitted to the United States.


The 9/11 terrorists were from Saudi Arabia.


Saudi Arabia is not on the President’s list.


While Section 3(f) of the order provides that “the Secretary of State or the Secretary of Homeland Security may submit to the President the names of any additional countries recommended for similar treatment,” the omission of the state that harbored the authors of the worst terror attack in American history in the first-and-worst- listing is interesting.


Section 5(e) allows for admission of refugees “when the person is already in transit and denying admission would cause undue hardship” but those carrying out the order have already ignored that. There was a report on NPR yesterday of a Syrian family- the father is a PhD candidate bound for an American university- granted final approval to relocate to America who were then turned away trying to change planes at Cairo. They had liquidated their holdings and had no home to which to return.


This morning, Senator Tim Kaine spoke on NPR of a family that had spent four years in a refugee camp being vetted before gaining approval to come to America this week. They did not arrive in Roanoke as expected, having been turned back.


WFAE carried a report this morning on several cases of refugees approved for resettlement in North Carolina who have been turned back. Mecklenburg and Guilford Counties take nearly all the state’s annual intake of refugees- about a thousand a year. Among the apparently unconsidered ripple effects of a sudden and arbitrary revocation of such approvals is that one relief organization here reports concerns it will lose funding based on numbers served and have to reduce staff. That will impact aid to the recently arrived and still-assimilating.


Part of the final entry approvals are time-dated security and medical clearances. If those run out while approved immigrants are placed on hold by the President’s order, the affected individuals will have to start the entire process over from scratch.


Turning back approved immigrants en route to America is just one way the President’s order tells the world our word is no good.


The order also suspends a special program for refugees whose applications for admission are based on having rendered significant service to American forces and interests in war, such as in Iraq and Afghanistan.


In that vein, it is worth noting that the second President Bush initiated a war on Afghanistan based on its having harbored the Al Qaeda terror organization. Much of that nation is still under the control of the terrorist-supporting Taliban. But Afghanistan is not on the President’s list.


On the other hand, an American ally, Iraq, is on the President’s shortlist. That long-suffering nation, whose oil the President speculated we may yet go back for in his speech at the CIA, might well be forgiven for collectively wondering, who needs enemies with friends like the United States?


Others wondering what good America’s word is includes those already granted permanent resident status, living in America, who cannot be assured they will be let back in if they go home for a visit, or try to return from one.

One account I have read is of an Iranian-born software engineer who took his vacation on a cruise ship and on its conclusion was subjected to extended interrogation.

He was not a gay man for whom you and the President profess concern over attack by foreign terrorists. He is gay man being treated as though he is a terrorist himself.


An Iranian film director nominated for an Oscar has been denied permission to attend the awards ceremony. Colleges and universities across the nation are scrambling to assist students lawfully engaged in American studies back from overseas without incident.


Others are being impacted in ways that go beyond questioning America’s word. There are outcomes that simply make America look stupid.


Dual-citizenship nationals of places not on the President’s list are being targeted. Deutsche Welle reports over 100,000 Germans born in other nations will be subjected to the President’s “extreme vetting.”


One of those is a man called Omid Nouripour. He was born in Iran. His family emigrated to Germany when he was a boy. He has been a German citizen since 2002. He is still an Iranian to the President, because Iran does not allow people born their to renounce their citizenship. Iran claims Iranian citizenship for Nouripour’s two minor sons as well, even though they have never set foot there.


The 41-year-old Mr Nouripour is also vice-chair of the German-American friendship caucus in the German Parliament, of which he is a member.


Another way not to accomplish what the President says he wants to accomplish is to order that Christian refugees be prioritized over refugees of other faiths, as in the cases of Syrian Christians, whom he has claimed have been singled out for exclusion, and then excluding them with his indefinite ban on all Syrian refugees.


Still another way to not start fixing the mess is when the President countenances flouting the Constitution of the United States.


Four federal judges have issued injunctions against enforcement of some or all of the President’s order over the last three days. While the Department of Homeland Security says it will abide by those orders, immigration officials at US airports are ignoring them.

Minor children have been separated from their families for hours of detention. Detained individuals have been isolated and denied legal counsel even as dozens of volunteer lawyers sit outside in arrival lounges. A wheelchair-bound couple, 88 and 83, one legally blind, the other recovering from a stroke, both green card holders, were detained and denied access to their medications.


Only in the late John McLaughlin’ world of “10 meaning absolute metaphysical certainty” can people who can’t see or walk be thought muling for terrorists.


A Virginia federal judge specifically directed that those detained be granted access to counsel. According to Washingtonian Magazine, CPB responded, “Not gonna happen.”


US Senator Cory Booker arrived at Dulles and was given the bum’s rush:


A source familiar with Booker’s exchange with CBP officials told The Daily Beast that officials with the agency refused to see him face to face. Instead, Booker wrote questions on a piece of paper which he handed to police officers, and those officers gave the paper—along with a copy of Brinkema’s ruling—to CBP officials. Those CBP officials then wrote out their answers to the senator’s questions, according to the source. The source described it as a half-written, half-spoken game of telephone.


The President- whose White House website just took down the entire section about courts from the pages explaining how the federal government works, and whose sister is a federal court of appeals judge appointed by President Clinton- has set his administration above the law and the courts. One can hardly wait to learn his pick to replace dear Justice Scalia tomorrow night.


-[W]hat is the difference now and when the Carter, Clinton, and Obama administrations put sanctions and limits on the same countries when our country's safety was on the line?


Beats the hell out of me, Mark. You offer no facts. I assume you know them. If that’s the case, you’d make a more compelling argument by showing how you believe whatever those three presidents did is equal or comparable to what President Trump has done.


On the other hand, if the question is just rhetorical, to score a point, good on ya. It is a popular, if intellectually lazy, meme among conservatives. You use it perfectly in this instance, arguing, in effect, that what this President does is OK because some Democratic presidents did it, too, rather than justifying on its merits.


When you provide the facts you rely on, I’ll take a look and decide if they warrant an answer.


That said, it strikes me that the President has not made a case for the current system being broken.


Section 4(a) lays out the President’s vision of a perfect vetting system:


The Secretary of State, the Secretary of Homeland Security, the Director of National Intelligence, and the Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation shall implement a program, as part of the adjudication process for immigration benefits, to identify individuals seeking to enter the United States on a fraudulent basis with the intent to cause harm, or who are at risk of causing harm subsequent to their admission. This program will include the development of a uniform screening standard and procedure, such as in-person interviews; a database of identity documents proffered by applicants to ensure that duplicate documents are not used by multiple applicants; amended application forms that include questions aimed at identifying fraudulent answers and malicious intent; a mechanism to ensure that the applicant is who the applicant claims to be; a process to evaluate the applicant's likelihood of becoming a positively contributing member of society and the applicant's ability to make contributions to the national interest; and a mechanism to assess whether or not the applicant has the intent to commit criminal or terrorist acts after entering the United States.


Can you tell me which of those are not in place now? Alternately, can you cite examples of where they have not worked? One useful metric might be the number of terrorist incidents launched by terrorists coming from outside the United States since 9/11: 0.


As Zack Beauchamp notes in a Vox article,


No perpetrator of a major terrorist attack in the United States has hailed from a country on Trump’s list. And even if you include the death toll from 9/11, the overall threat level from immigrants is really low.


A CNN post elaborated,


[B]etween 1975-2015, the United States admitted approximately 700,000 asylum-seekers and 3.25 million refugees. Four asylum-seekers and 20 refugees later became terrorists and launched attacks on US soil.


"The chance of being murdered in a terrorist attack committed by an asylum-seeker was one in 2.73 billion a year," wrote the study's author, Alex Nowrasteh. "The chance of being murdered in a terrorist attack committed by a refugee is one in 3.64 billion a year."


Beauchamp's article concludes,

You’re more likely to be killed by your own clothes than an immigrant terrorist.


Explain to us how there may be a better way to initiate a plan to stop terror from foreigners against the LGBT, Christian, and basic folk communities without first putting a temporary ban on the very countries these former Presidents did ?


I am not sure what constitutes America’s “basic folk communities.” I infer you are not, however, talking about folk singers. We all know they are all Communists who hate America. Because Joan Baez, Pete Seeger, and Woody Guthrie, who wrote a song about the President's father, "Old Man Trump."


With respect to Christians suffering persecution overseas- which is where it occurs- the President has made clear his view that it is not in America’s brief to promote democracy or values, and certainly not to the world’s policeman. In comments to The New York Times last July- which yours track exactly, if more briefly- he said,


TRUMP: I think right now when it comes to civil liberties, our country has a lot of problems, and I think it’s very hard for us to get involved in other countries when we don’t know what we are doing and we can’t see straight in our own country. We have tremendous problems when you have policemen being shot in the streets, when you have riots, when you have Ferguson. When you have Baltimore. When you have all of the things that are happening in this country — we have other problems, and I think we have to focus on those problems. When the world looks at how bad the United States is, and then we go and talk about civil liberties, I don’t think we’re a very good messenger.

SANGER: So that suggests that you would not, as, say, President Bush did, the last President Bush, make the spread of democracy and liberty sort of a core of your foreign policy. You would say, “We need allies, we’re not going to lecture them about what they do inside their borders.”

TRUMP: We need allies.

SANGER: And lecture inside their borders?

TRUMP: I don’t know that we have a right to lecture. Just look about what’s happening with our country. How are we going to lecture when people are shooting our policemen in cold blood. How are we going to lecture when you see the riots and the horror going on in our own country. We have so many difficulties in our country right now that I don’t think we should be, and there may be a time when we can get much more aggressive on that subject, and it will be a wonderful thing to be more aggressive. We’re not in a position to be more aggressive. We have to fix our own mess.


In that context, giving sanctuary priority to foreign Christian refugees from the Muslim-majority states in the President’s order looks pretty lecture-y.


A few days ago, the President sought to explain his views. CNN reported,


Speaking with the Christian Broadcasting Network, Trump said that it had been "impossible, or at least very tough" for Syrian Christians to enter the United States.

"If you were a Muslim you could come in, but if you were a Christian, it was almost impossible and the reason that was so unfair -- everybody was persecuted, in all fairness -- but they were chopping off the heads of everybody but more so the Christians. And I thought it was very, very unfair. So we are going to help them."

Trump did not name a reason or offer any evidence about why the agencies that vet refugees, including the Department of Homeland Security and the State Department, would have prioritized Muslim refugees over Christians.


According to a report by the nonpartisan Pew Research Center, however, 99% of the nearly 12,600 Syrians granted refugee status last year were Muslims. Less than 1% were Christian. Syria's population is 87% Muslim and 10% Christian, according to the CIA World Fact Book.

Also on Friday, Trump signed an executive order explicitly freezing refugee applications from Syria. It's unclear how his pledge to help persecuted Christians from that country will accord with the order.


The United States admitted a record number of 38,901 Muslim refugees in 2016, according to a study conducted by Pew. But nearly the same number of Christians, 37,521 were also admitted.


The President’s order creates a religious test for admission to the United States, something that is strictly forbidden by the Constitution. As I just noted, he tossed a bone to American evangelicals with his straw man Syrian Christians argument before making it nugatory in his next act.


It also has use in framing his concern as that of freedom from religious persecution rather than banning Muslims as a whole. The author of the order explained the plan to Fox News’ Jeanine Pirro over the weekend:


“I'll tell you the whole history of it,” Giuliani responded eagerly. “So when [Trump] first announced it, he said, 'Muslim ban.' He called me up. He said, 'Put a commission together. Show me the right way to do it legally.' "

Giuliani said he assembled a “whole group of other very expert lawyers on this,” including former U.S. attorney general Michael Mukasey, Rep. Mike McCaul (R-Tex.) and Rep. Peter T. King (R-N.Y.).

“And what we did was, we focused on, instead of religion, danger — the areas of the world that create danger for us,” Giuliani told Pirro. “Which is a factual basis, not a religious basis. Perfectly legal, perfectly sensible. And that's what the ban is based on. It's not based on religion. It's based on places where there are substantial evidence that people are sending terrorists into our country.”


In fact, as I noted above, it isn’t based on the places from which terrorists have come to America.


And the order doesn’t explain, say, why two neighbors in Aleppo, refugees both, should be treated differently because one is a Christian and one is a Muslim. No one has noted such fine distinctions being made by Syrian government artillery batteries or Russian bomber pilots.


To his credit, the President expressed an expansive set of goals for his order:


[T]he United States should not admit those who engage in acts of bigotry or hatred (including "honor" killings, other forms of violence against women, or the persecution of those who practice religions different from their own) or those who would oppress Americans of any race, gender, or sexual orientation.


On the other hand, in Section 10, which specifies gathering of data to aid the review of law and policy based on those criteria, sexual orientation-based oppression is not included.


This is not surprising. Republicans who want to seem vaguely hip and tolerant invoke concern for the rights of gay Americans exclusively as a matter of national security. Indeed, the only times the President ever spoke favorably of us in his campaign was to assure us he will not let foreign terrorists kill us.


“Ask the gays!” he bellowed to rally audiences in Atlanta and Greensboro, North Carolina rally last June 16:


Ask the gays what they think and what they do in not only Saudi Arabia, but many of these countries, and then you tell me who’s your friend: Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton?


And then he left Saudi Arabia out of his executive order.


In fairness, he’d’a been in a fix if he hadn’t. 76 nations criminalize homosexual activity, and many of them have oil.


Russia is not one of them, though they have made talking about it (“homosexual propaganda”) criminal. Moscow is home to the World Congress of Families, an anti-gay front headed by Brian Brown, longtime president of US-based National Organization for Marriage, which has been propped up for years by liberal donatives from the DeVos family, about whom more below.


Franklin Graham, about whom more below, also adores Russian policies, commenting during a 2015 trip there,


I very much appreciate that President Putin is protecting Russian young people against homosexual propaganda. If only to give them the opportunity to grow up and make a decision for themselves. Again, homosexuals cannot have children, they can take other people’s children.


Gay Americans are only useful to Republicans to the extent Muslims claim to kill us overseas (as The Washington Post reported last July, ISIS executions of two dozen gay men were greeted by rapturous social media approbation- "We hate Isis but when they do things like this, we love them. God bless you Isis." "I am against Isis but I am totally with Isis when they kill gays." "Amazing news. This is the least that gays deserve." "The most horrible crime on earth is homosexuality. Good job Isis." "The scene is ugly but they deserve it." "Those dirty people deserve Isis”- and parties. "In the Islamic State, gays are being tracked and killed all the time," said Subhi Nahas, a 28-year-old Syrian who fled via Lebanon and found sanctuary in the United States. "At the executions, hundreds of townspeople, including children, cheered jubilantly as [if] at a wedding").


Last June, the sometime bottle-blonde and British-Greek national Milo Yiannopoulos- the Stepin Fetchit of the American Right Breitbart News calls its “gay thot”- underscored the limited utility of LGBT Americans in the headline to one of his screeds:

The Left Chose Islam Over Gays. Now 100 People Are Dead Or Maimed In Orlando
Otherwise, the overlap between Muslim and American evangelical views of gay rights is nearly complete, and the differences mostly aesthetic.


Republicans simply don’t give two slaps about gay rights. In January 2015 three Republican presidential candidates attended a multi-day conference hosted by an Iowa preacher who screamed for the execution of American gays. Peter Sprigg, a vice president of the Family Research Council, has called for years for gay Americans to be “exported” to points unknown.


Such views hold sway even in our hometown, Mark. Lecturing the Charlotte Chamber of Commerce in October, Governor Pat McCrory held up Shelby  as an example of the real North Carolina when it came to right-minded discrimination:

“I need to let you know this is not just a Charlotte debate,” he said when asked about HB2. “As governor now, not as a former mayor, I need to tell you, if you think this is only a Charlotte issue, you need to think (about) what people are saying about it 20 miles outside of Charlotte.”

McCrory listed the names of several smaller cities — Shelby, Lincolnton and Wadesboro — as examples of places where support for HB2 runs much stronger.


This windshield note popped up in Shelby a month later:


Read the GOP platform from last year. The author of its antigay planks, Family Research Council’s Tony Perkins, is demanding a new purge of gays in the State Department, and Team Trump made a downpayment last week when it scrubbed the Department website of Secretary Kerry’s apology for the last Republican-led purge in the 1950s.

Perkins, who also masquerades as a Baptist minister in Louisiana, cheerfully accepted $100,000 from Mr Trump when he visited flooded Baton Rouge last summer, accompanied by Franklin Graham, who sold his soul for 100K a coupla years earlier).


When General Flynn railed against “bathroom politics” the GOP convention floor erupted in cheers. When the gay billionaire Peter Thiel spoke (“See? We so are not prejudiced!”), North Carolina Republicans led the boos.


Peter Thiel is a pragmatist. He recently took out New Zealand citizenship. He will get a much better deal, as a gay man, not just a billionaire investor, from that nation’s government than this one’s. But he has played ball with the President because doing so got him a place at the transition team table from which to make sure his business interests do not suffer. In return, Thiel was happy to tell The New York Times on January 12,


‘I think Trump is very good on gay rights,’ [gay billionaire and Trump transition team member Peter]Thiel told the New York Times. ‘I don’t think he will reverse anything. I would obviously be concerned if I thought otherwise.’


He was asked whether he was comfortable with idea of Mike Pence, someone who has dedicated part of his political life campaigning against LGBTI rights, as Vice President.

‘You know, maybe I should be worried but I’m not that worried about it,’ he replied.

‘I don’t know. People know too many gay people. There are just all these ways I think stuff has just shifted. For speaking at the Republican convention, I got attacked way more by liberal gay people than by conservative Christian people.

‘I don’t think these things will particularly change.’


One need only look at the record of the President and his Cabinet.


Mr Trump always stumbles over the order of the letters in the gay acronym “LGBT”: the mark of one who has not thought much- and cared less- about those issues (I note that your questions to me do the same, above).


Mr Trump met repeatedly last year with cattle calls of televangelists and each time promised them a blank check rolling back gay rights. He picked half a dozen of the most vocal to pray over his inauguration.


He has promised the appointment of federal judges to do that, starting with repeal of marriage equality.


He has promised to repeal every executive order protecting gay rights.


He has promised to sign the First Amendment Defense Act, a nationalized antigay freedom to discriminate bill.


He has said he supports North Carolina’s HB2, and to make the point has appointed one of the lawyers who defended it in court as head of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division.


Rex Tillerson, the secretary of state- designate, told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee he doesn’t know whether LGBT rights are human rights.

Betsy DeVos, his education secretary, has been bankrolling antigay campaigns and advocacy groups for decades, though- after claiming there should be guns in school because grizzly bears- she insisted she had no idea, for seventeen years, she was vice president of her mother’s foundation as it cut checks.

Apparently, she has been a clueless, solitary voice for tolerance- “I would hope that you wouldn’t include other family members beyond my core family” as her mother, husband, and relatives have ladled out millions to defeat gay rights initiatives.


Ben Carson, the Housing Secretary, promised senators he will give no “extra rights” to gays when it comes to housing discrimination, his euphemism for simple equality.

Attorney General nominee Jeff Sessions, who has opposed every gay rights measure in his lifetime, assured senators he’s hip:


I understand the demands for justice and fairness made by the LGBT community. I will ensure that the statutes protecting their rights and their safety are fully enforced.


Sessions and a number of other cabinet nominees promised to uphold federal law protecting gay Americans, all with straight faces. They all know there isn’t any.


So give this one a rest, Mark. No one believes anyone making the argument cares what happens to the gays.


-We have enough internal messes to clean up without compounding terror from the outside.


This doesn’t make a lick more sense than President Trump did when he said it to The New York Times last year. If you want to take another run at it, I’ll read it and see if it warrants a response.


-And, why won't all the protesters volunteer to put their "cause" where their actions are and allow just one refugee into their home? We are talking 50,000-100,000 refugees while there are over a million protesting. That should be easy, shouldn't it?


I have several thoughts on this point, Mark.


I’m really disappointed in you (I actually mean that, too). It’s unworthy of your intelligence.


The question is also, frankly, stupid.


That’s because, as you well know, the protests were over the fact the President arbitrarily shut down a system that has evolved as a bipartisan partnership between the government and private relief groups- many of them religiously-affiliated- who have, in fact, been making the plight of refugees their “cause.”


Refugees generally come as families, in point of fact, though we have seen circumstances so dire that large numbers of unaccompanied minors have undertaken perilous journeys to safety: Central American kids in recent years; and a remarkable surge in the European crisis of 2105, when nearly 100,000 sought asylum. I think it's clear that your "one per household" plan is rubbish, and not offered except as part of expressing your scorn for the protesters.


Another point: we’re not “talking 50,000-100,000 refugees while there are over a million protesting.”


Nearly one percent of all the people in the world are displaced today. That’s about sixty millions- the biggest worldwide dislocation since World War II.


At the end of August 2014 The Atlantic printed this item:


On Friday, the United Nations reported that nearly half of Syria's population has been displaced since the start of the civil war in 2011. Half. It's the equivalent of 135 million Americans being forced to move.


America has always been grudging toward refugees, our poetical and political tropes notwithstanding:



US refugee admittances peaked in 1980 at 210,000. After the last spasm of national security posturing- the Patriot Act- it fell to under 30,000 for two years in a row.

In the decade 2005-15, all immigration to the US raised the population one percentage point. In that context, you have spent your life on the side of exclusion.


But God is on your side, as I noted in a blog post yesterday:


It’s not a biblical command for the country to let everyone in who wants to come, that’s not a Bible issue,” [Franklin] Graham told HuffPost. “We want to love people, we want to be kind to people, we want to be considerate, but we have a country and a country should have order and there are laws that relate to immigration and I think we should follow those laws. Because of the dangers we see today in this world, we need to be very careful.


So protesters don’t have to take anyone in, any more than you do, Mark. God says so. And never mind all this Biblical claptrap:


Ruth 2:10

Then she fell on her face, bowing to the ground and said to him, "Why have I found favor in your sight that you should take notice of me, since I am a foreigner?"

Job 31:32

"The alien has not lodged outside, For I have opened my doors to the traveler.

Matthew 25:35

'For I was hungry, and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me something to drink; I was a stranger, and you invited Me in;

Matthew 25:38

'And when did we see You a stranger, and invite You in, or naked, and clothe You?

Matthew 25:44

"Then they themselves also will answer, 'Lord, when did we see You hungry, or thirsty, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not take care of You?'

Ephesians 3:1

For this reason I, Paul, the prisoner of Christ Jesus for the sake of you Gentiles--

1 Timothy 5:10

having a reputation for good works; and if she has brought up children, if she has shown hospitality to strangers, if she has washed the saints' feet, if she has assisted those in distress, and if she has devoted herself to every good work.

3 John 1:5

Beloved, you are acting faithfully in whatever you accomplish for the brethren, and especially when they are strangers;

Deuteronomy 10:19

"So show your love for the alien, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt.

Leviticus 19:34

'The stranger who resides with you shall be to you as the native among you, and you shall love him as yourself, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt; I am the LORD your God.

Leviticus 25:35

'Now in case a countryman of yours becomes poor and his means with regard to you falter, then you are to sustain him, like a stranger or a sojourner, that he may live with you.

Hebrews 13:2

Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by this some have entertained angels without knowing it.

Deuteronomy 14:29

"The Levite, because he has no portion or inheritance among you, and the alien, the orphan and the widow who are in your town, shall come and eat and be satisfied, in order that the LORD your God may bless you in all the work of your hand which you do.

Deuteronomy 26:11

and you and the Levite and the alien who is among you shall rejoice in all the good which the LORD your God has given you and your household.

Leviticus 19:10

'Nor shall you glean your vineyard, nor shall you gather the fallen fruit of your vineyard; you shall leave them for the needy and for the stranger. I am the LORD your God.

Leviticus 23:22

'When you reap the harvest of your land, moreover, you shall not reap to the very corners of your field nor gather the gleaning of your harvest; you are to leave them for the needy and the alien. I am the LORD your God.'"

Deuteronomy 24:19-21
"When you reap your harvest in your field and have forgotten a sheaf in the field, you shall not go back to get it; it shall be for the alien, for the orphan, and for the widow, in order that the LORD your God may bless you in all the work of your hands. "When you beat your olive tree, you shall not go over the boughs again; it shall be for the alien, for the orphan, and for the widow. "When you gather the grapes of your vineyard, you shall not go over it again; it shall be for the alien, for the orphan, and for the widow.

Deuteronomy 26:12-13
"When you have finished paying all the tithe of your increase in the third year, the year of tithing, then you shall give it to the Levite, to the stranger, to the orphan and to the widow, that they may eat in your towns and be satisfied. "You shall say before the LORD your God, 'I have removed the sacred portion from my house, and also have given it to the Levite and the alien, the orphan and the widow, according to all Your commandments which You have commanded me; I have not transgressed or forgotten any of Your commandments.



I suppose, in the spirit of your question, I could ask, why don’t life-obsessed Christians adopt an unwanted child per household? But that wouldn’t be any more serious than your question, would it?


-There were over 300K travelers yesterday and 109 were inconvenienced.


Your recitation skills are near letter-perfect, as I see from The Washington Times:


“When we look at it in context — and that’s important — 325,000 people in the first 24 hours flew into this country to airports from foreign countries. A hundred and nine people were affected. They were slowed down in their travel,” White House press secretary Sean Spicer said on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.”

“And I understand that’s an inconvenience, but at the end of the day, that’s a small price to pay as opposed to somebody losing their life because a terrorist attack was committed,” he said.


Is that 109 number accurate, Mark? Does it include those turned away or detained overseas? How many who made it to American airports have been detained? WTOP-TV, a DC-area station, interviewed one immigration lawyer at Dulles Airport whose client was detained. He said he thought, based on experience, if she wasn’t shipped home, the government would release her in two weeks.


If the President’s order was a one-day affair, too, Mark, you might have the makings of a valid point. But it will run at least ninety days. That’s almost ten thousand people “inconvenienced.” And White House officials are saying the list will, certainly, be expanded over time. The inconvenience may confidently predicted to rise accordingly.


How many does there have to be before it’s a problem to you?

Here's an update from Reuters and The Guardian, Mark, as of 9:30 pm this evening:
The internal department of homeland security document seen by Reuters has some figures on the numbers of people already directly affected by the travel ban. 
Between late Friday and early Monday, it said: 
348 visa holders were prevented from boarding US-bound flights. More than 200 people landed in the US but were denied entry. More than 735 people were taken aside for questioning by customs and border protection officers in US airports. 394 of those were legal permanent US residents holding green cards.
That's not 109 any more, is it? I make it 1283. Any thoughts?


I think the victims of Orlando and San Bernardino amounted to that many and I bet they wished their last day was just an inconvenience, don't you?


On the one-month anniversary of the Orlando murders, President Trump was in town. He missed a great photo op when he passed on stopping at the makeshift memorial outside the Pulse club, as scores of office holders in both parties had (even the Prime Minister of Luxembourg came).


In retrospect, it seems an odd omission given the Trump obsession with ratings and polls. It would have been easy- his campaign opened an office across the street that day- and would have got him some props with whom he calls “the gays.”

After all, as late as the day before his inauguration, The New York Post reported,


President-elect Donald Trump is being urged by some advisers to save at least one dance, as he celebrates his inauguration on Friday night, for a very special Republican lady — Caitlyn Jenner.

“It’s a brilliant idea,” a member of the incoming administration told me.

Besides mollifying the LGBTQ community — wary of conservative Republicans in general, and of Trump in particular — dancing with Jenner could mend fences within the party.

“Time heals all wounds,” one GOPer pointed out.

Bruce Jenner was a stalwart Republican long before the parent of six (10 if you count stepkids) transitioned into Caitlyn.

“The image of Trump dancing with Caitlyn would send a strong message that he supports gay rights and trans rights,” the Republican said. “A picture is worth a thousand tweets."


Didn’t happen, of course, and on that anniversary day in Orlando, Mr Trump had a pressing engagement with a national conclave of evangelical ministers who wanted to hear- again- that he would not displease them when it came to getting the gays back in the closet and shutting down all that equality rubbish. The gathering was hosted by the lawyers for Kim Davis, the Kentucky fashion plate and traditional marriage defender.


Your numbers are wrong, too, Mark. If you’re going to trivialize mass murder by equating it to airport delays, trivialize the right number of lives.


Not counting the three killers, the death toll of Orlando and San Bernadino was 63. That's not 109, and that bit about their being inconvenienced is unworthy of further notice.


The Orlando murderer was born in New York, by the way.


Of the two San Bernardino murderers, one was born in Chicago. The other was born in Pakistan and came to America on a visa to marry her husband and co-murderer.

Pakistan is not in the President’s order, either.


But we know the President loves the Pakistanis:




Thanks again for giving me the chance to think about these interesting questions.

Cheers,

Lin

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