Nasty mean-spirited neo-Nazi

Why was this Muslim ban put in place so quickly and with no exceptions for green card holders and people already en route or currently traveling abroad? If Vox’s reporting is to be believed, and I know of no reason not to, it’s primarily due to the views of senior political adviser Steve Bannon.

…for those who have followed Bannon’s career and statements over the years, this is no surprise at all. Bannon infamously bragged that his website Breitbart was “the platform” for the racist alt-right movement, and regularly featured lurid tales of crimes committed by immigrants. He’s said the US needs to “take a very, very, very aggressive stance against radical Islam.”

And once, he made clear that he is not particularly enthusiastic even about immigrants who are peaceful, successful, and economically productive.

[snip]

Bannon’s “statistic” that over two-thirds of Silicon Valley CEOs are Asian-born isn’t even close to being true, since only a small minority are. But the bigger takeaway is that Bannon was disturbed enough by this mistaken idea to bring it up. He was evidently trying to choose his words carefully, but he made it crystal clear that he was disturbed by the (fictional) idea of all these Asian-born CEOs running around in America.

It’s not enough we have Trump as President, we have a white supremacist as his closest adviser. If this was a Robert Ludlum book Consular Ops at the State Department would already be planning to take them both out.

Bye bye, Olympics?

“That man in the White House” may have cost Los Angeles a chance to host the 2024 Olympics and the United States a chance to host the 2026 World Cup in soccer. How? By banning Muslims from entering the country. “But wait,” you say. “It’s only for ninety days and only for seven countries and Syria, Trump ordered.” Yeah, but the IOC and FIFA might conclude that he’s too untrustworthy and their organizations might conclude their events would be better held elsewhere.

Here’s an example of the problems now presented:

The United States freestyle wrestling team is scheduled to participate in a World Cup competition in Iran on Feb. 8. Steve Fraser, the chief fund-raiser for U.S.A. Wrestling and a 1984 Greco-Roman Olympic champion, said on Saturday that the president of Iran’s wrestling federation was scheduled to meet this weekend with government officials there in an attempt to make sure the Americans would still be invited to the meet.

“There’s some nervousness by us that the Iranian government might say, ‘We can’t get visas to go there, so no Americans can come here, either,’” Mr. Fraser said.

As far as those bigger events, several NBA players have ties to Iran (on the list), and several marathoners have ties to Somalia (also on the list). Major League Soccer has two players who’ve played for Iran and Iraq’s national teams, and Iraq is also on the list of undesirable countries.

Now, the IOC and FIFA have both shown themselves to be willing to ignore an awful lot in order to place their events where the most money can be made, so they might try hard to ignore Trump’s ban too. It could be, though, that their constituent athletes and viewers might demand they not kowtow to a US President who’s shown himself to go off half-cocked with little thought of consequences.

Muslim ban

If it weren’t so tragic for so many people this would be pathetically funny. Just read the details in this CNN tick-tock.

Administration officials weren’t immediately sure which countries’ citizens would be barred from entering the United States. The Department of Homeland Security was left making a legal analysis on the order after Trump signed it. A Border Patrol agent, confronted with arriving refugees, referred questions only to the President himself, according to court filings.

[snip]

The policy team at the White House developed the executive order on refugees and visas, and largely avoided the traditional interagency process that would have allowed the Justice Department and homeland security agencies to provide operational guidance, according to numerous officials who spoke to CNN on Saturday.

Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly and Department of Homeland Security leadership saw the final details shortly before the order was finalized, government officials said.

Friday night, DHS arrived at the legal interpretation that the executive order restrictions applying to seven countries — Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Syria, Sudan and Yemen — did not apply to people who with lawful permanent residence, generally referred to as green card holders.

The White House overruled that guidance overnight, according to officials familiar with the rollout. That order came from the President’s inner circle, led by Stephen Miller and Steve Bannon.

Great. Two amateur political advisors say “We have the authoriteh!” The legal aspects of this order are overridden and everybody within the White House is happy:

“It’s working out very nicely,” Trump told reporters. “You see it at the airports. You see it all over. It’s working out very nicely and we’re going to have a very, very strict ban, and we’re going to have extreme vetting, which we should have had in this country for many years.”

Meanwhile, at those airports, there are massive demonstrations demanding the ban be overturned or rescinded. I can imagine how Trump felt when he turned on the television this evening and saw all those people manifestly defying him.

I am very proud of my fellow Americans today.

Note: It was the ACLU which got a case in front of a federal judge today and persuaded her to put a stay on this; I joined that organization today and set up a monthly donation to it. If you can swing it, do the same. It’s going to need money to fight all the misbehavior of this Administration.

Keep them Muslims OUT!

But Trump’s efforts to do so with today’s executive orders may be unconstitutional. If so, it may be due to a single sentence in the majority opinion Justice Alito wrote in the Hobby Lobby case. That was the one in which five justices said privately-held corporations didn’t have to comply with Federal rules they objected to on religious grounds if there was another way of achieving the rules’ goal, according to the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

In Hobby Lobby, Alito’s majority opinion claimed that a 2000 amendment to RFRA was “an obvious effort to effect a complete separation from First Amendment case law.” This was, frankly, a highly dubious claim. But it is also part of the holding of an opinion by the Supreme Court of the United States. Whether it’s actually true or not is irrelevant. It’s the law now.

So Hobby Lobby severed RFRA from the body of cases interpreting the First Amendment. That would include any case law suggesting that immigrants seeking entry into the United States don’t enjoy protection from religious discrimination. RFRA limits Trump’s ability to discriminate against Muslim refugees, and he has Justice Alito to thank for it.

We’ll have to see whether this analysis stands up in court, but I assume the lawyers who sue on behalf of refugees will be informed of this argument. Let’s hope so.

Internal Resistance to Trump

This is quite something. The vulgar talking yam (© Charlie Pierce) hasn’t yet been in office a full week and already there are more than 50 unofficial Twitter accounts from within the Federal Government dedicated to publishing information in defiance of his team’s edicts that their agencies not communicate with the public. Many appear to be National Parks, but NASA is represented, and so are HHS, DHS, FAA, CDC, FEMA and Treasury, to name a few.

I don’t think I’ve ever seen this from Federal civil servants before.

The second verse of this song should be dedicated to these men and women who work for our government.

Life in the right-wing bubble

More “alternative facts!”

Yesterday Trump signed a memo freezing Federal hiring. In announcing this, Spicer

shed further light on the plan at a press conference Monday, claiming that it “counters the dramatic expansion of the federal workforce in recent years.”

Now look at the official Office of Personnel Management numbers for the Obama years:

Year Executive branch civilians (thousands) Uniformed military personnel (thousands) Legislative and judicial branch personnel (thousands) Total Federal personnel (thousands)
 
2009 2,774 1,591 66 4,430
2010 (census) 2,776 1,602 64 4,443
2011 2,756 1,583 64 4,403
2012 2,697 1,551 64 4,312
2013 2,698 1,500 63 4,231
2014 2,663 1,459 63 4,185

It seems pretty clear that through 2014 the actual numbers have fallen. There was no “dramatic expansion” of the federal workforce. However, that’s been an article of faith on right-wing talk radio and cable television, and that’s the world the former RNC apparatchik Spicer comes from, so of course it’s true.

Grrr, wind

While the rest of the country particularly in the Southeast had much worse damage, we had our own wind storm out here over the weekend. It left folks with damaged roofs, downed trees, and even a trampoline on a utility pole.

Our home was not immune.

That’s about an 8-foot span of fence which got pulled away from its anchors on both ends. We were going to file an insurance claim but realized our deductible is way higher than the cost of repairing it will be, so now I’m looking for carpenter/fence companies.