"Do or Do not. There is no try."

“Where’s The Cool-Down Switch On This Thing?”: The Apocalyptic Mind-Set That Has Developed Among Republicans

Krugman is, as usual, right: the hysteria level among Republicans at present is just out of control. You imagine them examining their own bodies for a cool-down switch or maybe plunging themselves into cold bathwater periodically.

[W]e shouldn’t really be surprised, because we’ve seen this movie before (unless we were too scared to go to the theater). Remember the great Ebola scare of 2014? The threat of a pandemic, like the threat of a terrorist attack, was real. But it was greatly exaggerated, thanks in large part to hype from the same people now hyping the terrorist danger.

What’s more, the supposed “solutions” were similar, too, in their combination of cruelty and stupidity. Does anyone remember Mr. Trump declaring that “the plague will start and spread” in America unless we immediately stopped all plane flights from infected countries? Or the fact that Mitt Romney took a similar position? As it turned out, public health officials knew what they were doing, and Ebola quickly came under control — but it’s unlikely that anyone on the right learned from the experience.

What explains the modern right’s propensity for panic? Part of it, no doubt, is the familiar point that many bullies are also cowards. But I think it’s also linked to the apocalyptic mind-set that has developed among Republicans during the Obama years.

Think about it. From the day Mr. Obama took office, his political foes have warned about imminent catastrophe. Fiscal crisis! Hyperinflation! Economic collapse, brought on by the scourge of health insurance! And nobody on the right dares point out the failure of the promised disasters to materialize, or suggest a more nuanced approach.

Given this context, it’s only natural that the right would seize on a terrorist attack in France as proof that Mr. Obama has left America undefended and vulnerable. Ted Cruz, who has a real chance of becoming the Republican nominee, goes so far as to declare that the president “does not wish to defend this country.”

The context also explains why Beltway insiders were so foolish when they imagined that the Paris attacks would deflate Donald Trump’s candidacy, that Republican voters would turn to establishment candidates who are serious about national security.

Who, exactly, are these serious candidates? And why would the establishment, which has spent years encouraging the base to indulge its fears and reject nuance, now expect that base to understand the difference between tough talk and actual effectiveness?

Sure enough, polling since the Paris attack suggests that Mr. Trump has actually gained ground.

And why shouldn’t he? The entire GOP field has been moving in his direction on this inflammable “Issue” of immigration linked to terrorism. The Republican Establishment types who have regarded the Trump candidacy as summer entertainment for the hoi polloi before they settle down to do their duty to the party by nominating Jeb have never really understood Trump’s appeal. All they can do now is mimic his rhetoric.


By: Ed Kilgore, Senior Writer, Political Animal Blog, The Washington Monthly, November 20, 2015

November 21, 2015 Posted by | Donald Trump, Establishment Republicans, Fearmongering | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“This Joke’s Not Funny Anymore”: Donald Trump’s Talk Of Registering Muslims And Closing Mosques Is Deeply Un-American

Donald Trump is no longer funny.

For the last several months, the former reality TV star has provided comic relief as the front-runner in the Republican presidential field – especially if, like me, you have remained in the camp that believes that Trump is not going to be the GOP nominee, let alone president of the United States. Granted, his antics have been juvenile, offensive and reflected an unappealing seam in the national character, but his focus on dumb insults and general oafishness kept Trump’s pronouncements for the most part in the realm of clumsy diversion. As The New Yorker’s John Cassidy wrote yesterday, “Since so much of what Trump says is hot air, it’s tempting to dismiss all of it as mere rabble-rousing or showboating.”

But things have changed.

Trump’s rhetoric since last week’s Paris attacks has taken a dark turn and, as Greg Sargent writes in The Washington Post today, it’s spiraling downward: “[I]n the endless Trumpathon that the GOP primaries have become, every idea, no matter how startling at first hearing, must always be superseded, or Trumped, by a new, yuuuger idea.” So in a matter of days he went from entertaining the idea of shutting down houses of worship to saying that we have “absolutely no choice” but to do so; he doesn’t dismiss appalling notions like forcing certain religious groups to register or carry special religiously based identification. The fact that the religion in question is Islam is beside the point – this sort of targeting and discrimination is fundamentally un-American as is his apparent belief in “security” uber alles. (“Some people are going to be upset about it, but I think that now everybody is feeling that security is going to rule,” he told Yahoo News this week – and surely the trains will run on time as well.)

Trump told Yahoo News that “certain things will be done that we never thought would happen in this country in terms of information and learning about the enemy.” As my colleague Emily Arrowood noted this morning: “It can’t happen here used to be a warning that it really can if we’re not careful – not a campaign promise that it will.”

And Cassidy again:

Trump must know that his proposals don’t make sense, but he’s pushing on regardless. He has moved from rabble-rousing to demagoguery, or something even uglier. And this time, sadly, we have no option but to take him seriously.

I am deeply uncomfortable with comparisons to the Nazis. They are thrown around too lightly and inherently cheapen the sheer scope of the evil acts committed by Hitler and his henchmen. But that doesn’t give lesser nods to fascism a pass until they rise to Holocaust levels; and this talk of religious registration and identification flirts with fascism in a way that should be deeply upsetting to Americans of all political stripes.

Trump should explain himself – let him hoist himself on his own petard. And every other candidate in the race should be put on the record as to whether they’re with the GOP’s unhinged front-runner or with basic American values of liberty and justice for all.


By: Robert Schlesinger, Managing Editor for Opinion, U. S. News and World Report, November 20, 2015

November 21, 2015 Posted by | Discrimination, Donald Trump, GOP Presidential Candidates | , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

“Rubio Faces Leadership Test And Flunks”: There Is A Malignancy Eating Away At The Republican Party

Republican presidential frontrunner Donald Trump started the week by talking about closing down mosques, before taking the truly extraordinary step yesterday of saying he would “absolutely” implement a policy of registering Muslim Americans into a government database. The question now is what his GOP rivals intend to say and do in response.

Jeb Bush, to his credit, told CNBC this morning that Trump’s approach is “just wrong.” Ted Cruz, who’s been highly reluctant for months to say a discouraging word about the New York developer, was willing to argue this morning, “I’m a big fan of Donald Trump’s but I’m not a fan of government registries of American citizens.”

Marco Rubio, as best as I can tell, hasn’t commented yet on Trump’s registry idea, but he did speak last night with Fox News’ Megyn Kelly, who was reminded by the host, “One of your fellow candidates, Donald Trump is suggesting we may need to close mosques that have problems with radicals at the top. What do you say?” Here’s the senator’s response in its entirety, by way of the Nexis transcript:

“Well, I think it’s not about closing down mosques. It’s about closing down any place, whether it’s a cafe, a diner, an internet spot, any place where radicals are being inspired.

“And that we have – the biggest problem we have is our inability to find out what these places are because we’ve crippled our intelligence programs, both through an authorized disclosure by a traitor, in other words, Snowden, or by some of the things that this president has put in place for the support even of some from my own party to diminish our intelligence capabilities.

“So, whatever facilities being used, it’s not just a mosques. Any facility that’s being used to radicalize and inspire attacks against the United States should be a place that we look at.”

Let’s unwrap this a bit because I think it says something important about a top presidential candidate’s perspective on a key issue.

First, there’s some ambiguity to Rubio’s answer, since he chose not to respond directly to the question. The senator says he’s prepared to “close down any place” – “not just mosques.” In context, however, that suggests mosques would be among the facilities a Rubio administration would target, aligning him with at least part of Trump’s agenda.

Second, I’d love to hear more about how Rubio intends to target cafes and diners. How would that work, exactly? If the goal is to go after “any place” where someone might be “inspired” by radical ideas, are we to believe a President Rubio might also try to close libraries’ doors?

And finally, why can’t Rubio give a straight answer in response to Trump’s extremism?

In fairness to the Florida senator, he wasn’t asked about Trump’s most offensive comments, and Rubio may yet follow Bush’s and Cruz’s lead on the database issue. But the senator was asked about his comfort level in using the federal government to target American houses of worship, and in response, Rubio offered an evasive answer.

At Commentary magazine, conservative Noah Rothman wrote this morning, “Marco Rubio missed an opportunity last night to do something that might have been politically stupid but nevertheless righteous. There is a malignancy eating away at the Republican Party, and Rubio passed on an opportunity to begin the work of excising it.”

Presidential campaigns offer occasional leadership opportunities for candidates to seize. In this case, Rubio faced a test and flunked.


By: Steve Benen, The Maddow Blog, November 20, 2015

November 21, 2015 Posted by | Discrimination, GOP Presidential Candidates, Marco Rubio | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“Jeb Bush & Ted Cruz Only Want To Save Christians”: Advocating For The U.S. To Officially Discriminate Based On Religion

The terror attacks in Paris on Friday were a starting pistol for the Republican presidential candidates’ race to the far right on the Syrian refugee crisis, amid concerns that ISIS-trained terrorists could trickle into the United States as easily as they seem to have entered France, resulting in similar carnage.

The lurch to the right has gone so far that two of the major candidates are advocating for the U.S. to officially discriminate based on religion.

Ben Carson said that allowing any refugees into the United States at all “under these circumstances is a suspension of intellect”; Donald Trump said, “We cannot let them into this country, period”; Marco Rubio switched his position from being “open” to the idea of taking refugees to saying, “It’s not that we don’t want to. It’s that we can’t.” Rand Paul cautioned the U.S. to be “very careful” to not admit refugees “that might attack us” and, on Monday, announced to reporters that he was preparing a bill to halt refugees from countries with jihadist activity; Chris Christie said that not even “3-year-old orphan” refugees should be allowed to enter the country.

But Ted Cruz and Jeb Bush devised a compromise: The U.S. could admit Syrian refugees so long as the refugees are Christians.

“There is no meaningful risk of Christians committing acts of terror,” Cruz said Sunday in South Carolina.

“If there were a group of radical Christians pledging to murder anyone who had a different religious view than they, we would have a different national security situation,” Cruz reasoned. “But it is precisely the Obama administration’s unwillingness to recognize that or ask those questions that makes them so unable to fight this enemy. Because they pretend as if there is no religious aspect to this.”

On Monday, Cruz announced that he will introduce legislation to ban Muslim Syrian refugees from entering the country.

Jeb Bush, who urged a “really tough screening” process for refugees, said Monday, “I do think there is a special important need to make sure that Christians from Syria are being protected, because they are being slaughtered in the country and but for us who? Who would take care of the number of Christians that right now are completely displaced?”

President Obama responded to Cruz and Bush’s proposal with audible frustration on Monday, at the G-20 summit in Antalya, Turkey.

“Many of these refugees are the victims of terrorism themselves, that’s what they’re fleeing,” he said.

And then he seemed to take a direct swipe at Cruz, who has long claimed that his father fled communist Cuba: “When I hear political leaders suggesting that there would be a religious test for which a person who’s fleeing from a war torn country is admitted, when some of those folks themselves come from families who benefited from protection when they were fleeing political persecution? That’s shameful. That’s not American. It’s not who we are.

“I think it’s very important for us right now, particularly those who are in leadership, particularly those who have a platform and can be heard, not to fall into that trap, not to feed that dark impulse inside of us.”

The campaigns of Cruz and Bush did not respond to requests for comment on the matter.

The process by which refugees can gain entry to the U.S. is not a simple one.

The Department of Homeland Security, which oversees the program responsible for refugees, requires applicants to submit to a rigorous screening process which requires all sorts of personal information, from their fingerprints to details about their families and relationships, according to a spokesman.

And if those refugees claim to be fleeing from religious persecution, there is already a system in place to vet their claims.

An official familiar with the process said the DHS uses all “biographic and biometric information” and vets that information against law enforcement, intelligence sources, and other databases in order to check the refugees identity. The refugees are also checked for any criminal history or other “derogatory information, and identify information” during the process.

The refugee cannot travel to the U.S. until all the checks are complete.

The U.S. has been accepting refugees since World War II, when 250,000 of them entered. The Displaced Persons Act of 1948 welcomed 400,000 more people.

In 1979, 110,000 Vietnamese refugees came into the country, and 97,000 followed in 1980. During the same period, 120,000 came from Cuba.

In the wake of the 9/11 attacks, the number of refugees entering the U.S. declined. The New York Times notes that in 2002, only 27,131 came. The system for gaining entry to the U.S. is so complex that, as the Times wrote, “most refugees need at least a year and sometimes two to navigate” it.

Sarah Demant, the senior director of the Identity and Discrimination Unit at Amnesty International, told me that the group was “concerned” by the presidential candidates “politicizing” a human-rights issue.

“Human beings who are most vulnerable—refugees and asylum seekers—shouldn’t be used as political maneuvering,” she said. “Human rights are not political.”

“People of all religions are at risk… particularly in Syria with the Syrian refugee crisis. Christians and Muslims and people of all faiths are at risk,” she added. “The U.S. policy should be that all asylum seekers are allowed to seek asylum, no matter what their religion. The value of nondiscrimination is not just a human-rights value, it’s an American value.”


By: Olivia Nuzzi, The Daily Beast, November 20, 2015

November 21, 2015 Posted by | Christians, Discrimination, Jeb Bush, Ted Cruz | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Trump’s National Security Notions Are Crazy—At Best”: Generals Shoot Down Trump’s Fear-Mongering Plans For Muslims

Donald Trump and Ben Carson have spent the last 24 hours proposing bigoted and constitutionally questionable methods for keeping tabs on Muslims and Syrian refugees. And that’s causing some retired generals and admirals to speak out against the GOP presidential frontrunners.

The former top military officers contacted by The Daily Beast said not only are Carson and Trump pushing ideas that are unworkable, they would actually make the situation in Middle East worse.

For example, Retired Rear Admiral John Hutson, the former Judge Advocate General of the Navy, said Trump “has proven himself useful in defining the outer limits of the spectrum of thought” and that his ideas were “short of internment camps, but not much.”

“As a lawyer, I’d suggest that among other reasons it is a bad idea is that it violates the freedom of religion clause of the 1st Amendment,” Hutson said. “Victory for the bad guys is to cause us to change what we stand for in fundamental ways. This would do that.”

In a campaign appearance on Thursday, Trump said he would “absolutely” implement a mandatory database system to track Muslims, if elected to the Oval Office. And in an interview with Yahoo that same day, Trump inched toward fascism, refusing to rule out forcing Muslims to carry an identification card identifying their faith.

“We’re going to have to do things that we never did before. And some people are going to be upset about it, but I think that now everybody is feeling that security is going to rule,” Trump said. “And so we’re going to have to do certain things that were frankly unthinkable a year ago.”

The comments came as Congress passed a controversial bill to stem the flow of Syrian refugees into the U.S. in response to terrorist attacks in Paris last week. It’s a measure that the last two Homeland Security Secretaries opposed.

Trump, on Friday, denied he had suggested a Muslim database. But Charles Dunlap, a retired Air Force major general and now a law professor at Duke, expressed puzzlement as to how registration of anyone by religion would add to national security in any way.

“Focusing on religion can be, from a military perspective, counterproductive, as it could serve to incite opposition where they may be none,” he said.

Chris Inglis, a retired Air National Guard brigadier general and former deputy director of the National Security Agency, seemed at a loss with Trump’s latest salvo.

“I have no particular insights on what Mr. Trump might have meant by his remarks but the law is clear,” he said. “Persons residing in the U.S. are afforded the same protection under the law as U.S. citizens, to include freedom from arbitrary interference with their privacy, freedoms of expression, association, and peaceful assembly, and the requirement of a court’s probable cause finding to conduct non-consensual government surveillance of the content of a given person’s communications.”

But since this is the 2015 presidential race, Trump was—of course—not alone in spewing hateful remarks about Muslims and Syrian refugees.

Carson, during a campaign stop in Mobile, Alabama, compared some refugees fleeing certain death and persecution in Syria to “a rabid dog.”

“If there’s a rabid dog running around your neighborhood, you’re probably not going to assume something good about that dog and you’re probably going to put your children out of the way,” he said, adding later he would call the Humane Society to get the rabid dog help because he loves dogs.

How nice.

Hutson called the analogy “particularly unhelpful for a whole host of reasons.”

Several of the officials said the this type of language is not only counter to the American values, it actually feeds the ISIS propaganda machine.

Retired Army Lieutenant General Charley Otstott called the remarks “extremely inappropriate.”

“Equating refugees to terrorists seeks to exploit the fears of the American public and plays into the hands of Daesh, who want us to be very afraid,” he said, using an alternate term for ISIS. “We should be countering Daesh propaganda rather than taking actions which will most certainly feed their propaganda machine.”

Dunlap, the retired Air Force major general, urged the candidates to resist playing into the hateful rhetoric.

“I would hope that all candidates for public office would refrain from making derogatory characterizations of Syrian refugees, and instead focus on solving the problem,” he said. “If people want to use really negative language, we’ve got ISIS out there for that.”

And yet, the harsh words—and harsh proposals—seem to be only multiplying. In an interview with Fox News, Sen. Marco Rubio, considered by many Republican insiders to be the sane alternative to Trump and Carson’s craziness, said he was open to the idea of shuttering mosques—and any other public space, if they’re somehow associated with extremism.

“It’s not about closing down mosques. It’s about closing down any place—whether it’s a cafe, a diner, an internet site—any place where radicals are being inspired,” he said. “So whatever facility is being used—it’s not just a mosque—any facility that’s being used to radicalize and inspire attacks against the United States, should be a place that we look at.”

Reached by phone from New Hampshire where he is campaigning for his friend Lindsey Graham, Sen. John McCain dismissed extremist rhetoric about refugees as “bizarre” and “clearly un-presidential.”

Of the fear-mongering Republican candidates, McCain said, “I think they’re diverting attention from their total lack of knowledge and expertise as to how to address this challenge.”

The Muslim-registry proposed by Donald Trump McCain found particularly “offensive.”

“There’s 3,500 men and women serving in the military that are Muslim,” he said. “Does that mean they’re gonna have to leave where they’re serving overseas, some of them in combat, to register somewhere? That’s really something that I find bizarre and clearly un-presidential.”


By: Tim Mak, The Daily Beast, November 20, 2015

November 21, 2015 Posted by | Constitution, Donald Trump, ISIS, Syrian Refugees | , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

%d bloggers like this: