Whiplash, Conspiracy Theories and Damn Lies

Last night the US Navy responded to the atrocities committed by the Syrian government and it’s leader, Bashar Assad, by bombing a Syrian air base.  The reaction from around the country and around the world has been highly varied, as you might expect.

Our two most senior foreign affairs officials – Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley – are probably visiting their chiropractors today, after having their heads spun around in the last week.  On Thursday March 30, she said “Our priority is no longer to sit there and focus on getting Assad out”.  On the same day, Tillerson added “I think the status and the longer-term status of President Assad will be decided by the Syrian people”.  We can’t be sure what they meant, and there was no confirmation from anyone in the government that the policy towards Assad and Syria had or hadn’t changed.  But this retoric certainly made the point that the US was not looking to take actions against the Assad regime.  And this comes against the backdrop of years of tweets and (actual) statements by our fearless leader that the US had no business being engaged in any way, shape or form in the Syrian conflict.

Today’s a new day, I guess.

Actually, this highlights an issue that has been on my mind since Drump first rode down the gilded elevator to launch his assault on democracy in the United States: anyone who votes for him because they think they agree with his position on any issue is letting themselves be conned.  Drump doesn’t have any positions; or more to the point, he is at various times in every side of every issue.  Planned Parenthood?  Support and then not.  Medical coverage for everyone? Support and then not.  Stay out of Syria? Support and then not.  If you believe any given thing that comes out of his mouth (or across his Twitter feed), you are the sucker born today.

In the meantime, the Alt-Right goons who have been having fainting spells from being so excited that they have a nutcase of their own in the White House are up in arms over Drump’s Syrian Adventure.  Mike Chernovich, an alt-right blogger who was recommended for a Pulitzer Price by Beevis, went on a livestream last night.  According to Politico, “Cernovich also expressed his belief that Syrian dictator Bashar Assad had been framed for the chemical attack, though he had not decided by whom. “It was probably ISIS did it to themselves,” he said on the livestream, while also tweeting, “Did McCain give ‘moderate rebels’ (ISIS) in Syria poison gas and Hollywood style film equipment?”

(http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2017/04/trump-alt-right-syria-war-214998)

Which brings us to the question of what happens next.  CNN was reporting earlier today that Pentagon briefers were suggesting that, although they didn’t have all the facts yet, Russia may have been actively involved in the barbaric chemical attack – not just a background supporter and defender of Assad.  If this is true, it would be shocking and disheartening and scary, all at the same time.  So let’s play a mind game: imagine that Sean Spicer announces at his next briefing that he has evidence that the Russians were involved.  Or, that he announces they’ve looked carefully at the evidence and determined that the Russians weren’t involved.

Can we believe him?

The Ides of Trump

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Please Mr. Postman look and see

If there’s a letter in your bag, oh yeah, for me

“Please Mr. Postman”, by Georgia Dobbins, William Garrett, Freddie Gorman, Brian Holland, Robert Bateman

I plan to do this. Just an idea posted by my friend, Audrey Cownie.

On March 15th, each of us will mail Donald Trump a postcard or letter that publicly expresses our opposition to him. And we, in vast numbers, from all corners of the world, will overwhelm the man with his unpopularity and failure. And most importantly, we will bury the White House post office in pink slips, all informing Donnie that he’s fired.

Each of us — every protester from every march, each Congress-calling citizen, every boycotter, volunteer, donor, and petition signer — if each of us writes even a single postcard or letter and we put them all in the mail on the same day, March 15th, well: you do the math.

No alternative fact or Russian translation will explain away our record-breaking, officially-verifiable, warehouse-filling flood of fury. Hank Aaron currently holds the record for fan mail, having received 900,000 pieces in a year. We’re setting a new record: over a million pieces in a day, with not a single nice thing to say.

So sharpen your wit, unsheathe your writing implements, and see if your sincerest ill-wishes can pierce Donald’s famously thin skin.

Prepare for March 15th, 2017, a day hereafter to be known as #TheIdesOfTrump

Write one postcard. Write a dozen! Take a picture and post it on social media tagged with #TheIdesOfTrump ! Spread the word! Everyone on Earth should let Donnie know how he’s doing. They can’t build a wall high enough to stop the mail.

Then, on March 15th, mail your messages to:

  So-called President Donald J. Trump

  The White House

  1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW

  Washington, DC 20500

It might just be enough to make him crack.

(Not my original post but someone else’s great idea!  Copy and repost.)

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Another day, another Muslim ban

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… and when they came for me, there was no one left to protest

So late this morning the Drumpster administration announced that the President had signed a new, improved travel ban.  Not that there was ever anything wrong with the old one.  This is, of course, an attempt to run around the various court orders from across the country the stopped implementation of the old Muslim ban.  And no one used the words “Muslim ban” or even “ban” in the announcement, nor in the text of the executive order itself.

I have actually read most of the executive order.

It reads very neutrally, expressing no “opinions” other than the ones required by statute: e.g., that the President “proclaims” that this is all a good idea under various laws.

It gives all kinds of background, including a somewhat accurate history of the orginal order, the history of how the six covered nations were either designated previously as “state sponsors of terrorism” or are currently dangerous places to be.

It describes how caring the DHS will be as it studies whether to grant waivers to special individuals.  At the same time, it justifies suspending “temporarily” all entry to reduce the workload on the poor workers at all of the agencies who would need to do extra investigative work while we “figure out what the hell is going on”.

The order also goes to great lengths to try and cure some of the specific problems that were cited in the various court orders that stopped the original order.  For instance, there’s a long list of exceptions for certain travelers from the six countries: dual citizens of other countries, green card holders, family members of permenant residents of the use, travelers with NATO visas, etc.  It’s quite a long list.  There is no mention of preference to religious minorities having preference.  There’s accomodation for travelers who currently have valid visas.  All in, a naive reader would think this was a clear-headed and rational response to a dangerous world.  Except, of course, we know it’s not that.

We all know that this is born out of the Dumpster’s long standing discriminatory bias against Muslims.  We know because he said it a thousand times throughout the campaign, after his election, and when Ban Classic was introduced.  We know it because one of the chief idiot Drumpettes, Rudy “Lock her up” Guilliani went on television and said he helped craft Ban Classic so it would ban Muslims, but not appear to ban Muslims.

The order suspends all refugees from entering the country for 120 days, and reduces the number that will be accepted in 2017 to 50,000.  I think this is the most problematic part of the entire fiasco.  Refugees are, by definition, people who are fleeing from horrible situations – war, famine, persecution.  They are helpless; they need help to simply survive.  This country has a mixed bag about refugees.

One of our origin stories,  taught to every schoolchild every fall, is that the Pilgrems were refugees: fleeing religious persecution, they traveled to this country, where they found a safe place to live and were helped by the existing denizens.  Every Thanksgiving play in this country features the Native Americans who helped the refugees from England survive.  By the way, most of this is fantasy and didn’t actually happen like that – but the point is that we believe it to be part of our heritage.

Another part of our refugee history is the shameful exclusion of Jewish refugees in the years leading up to World War II.  As a result, an unknown number of people died at the hands of the Nazis.  Why were they excluded?  Well, the private reason almost certainly involved anti-semitism, but the public reason was that they could harbor spies and terrorists amongst them, since they were coming from Germany and other countries they controlled.  Sound familiar?

I accept that in admitting people from a war-torn region where there are many who harbor ill-feelings about the West and the US will probably allow a small number who go on to commit serious acts of violence in our country.  I admit that some people already in this country might very well die as a result.  But I wonder: where is our bravery?  We celebrate those who take risks to save others: police, fire fighters, soldiers, sailors, the man who jumps in the lake to save a drowning child.  We encourage our children to stand up to bullies and support others, even when it means that they may be hurt – physically or emotionally – in the process.  Yet here is an opportunity for all of us to share in the risk – the risk that there might be some harm, while at the same time that we are guaranteed to save the lives of tens of thousands or more. Why is it that we are unwilling to take this small risk?  I find it shameful and cowardly.

Let me be very clear.  I think we need to have secure borders.  I think we need to take care of who is allowed into our country.  I don’t want to die from a terrorist act, nor do I wish my children, grandchildren, friends or anyone to be hurt.   But a policy born out of fear, hatred and bigotry still smells like a pig even after you put new lipstick on it.

We must #Resist the ban.