When President Obama was preparing to nominate a Supreme Court justice, Mitch McConnell said that the people should have a voice; the people said they’d rather have Hillary Clinton choose, but the Electoral College elected President Trump.

By the McConnell standard, the Senate should refuse to consider any nominee put forward by a President elected with a minority of the popular vote.


Dear Students,

I write this unofficially, as really I have no official ‘voice’ either for the department or the university, but there are some things coming from the recent election that really need to be said. Frankly, if I were many of you, I’d be feeling a bit scared right now. The President Presumptive (amazingly, Mr. Trump has not actually been elected yet; the Electoral College, which elects the President, will vote on December 19, and almost certainly elect him then) made some statements in his campaign that sound like radical changes in immigration policy. There has also been a reaction to his victory that has been, well to put it mildly, unsavory.

Policy Proposals

Early in the campaign, Mr. Trump called for the elimination of a couple of visa categories, the H-1B (skilled worker) visa and the J visas that allow for people to work on exchange. This is worrying, if you hope to apply for an H-1B visa at some point after graduating, but the change could not happen without Congressional action, and there’s big money behind keeping the program. Still, it’s something to watch for the future. More concerning is the vagueness surrounding his J visa proposals, as he does not define which J categories he would eliminate, or if he would eliminate them all — which would include our exchange students and exchange scholars. Again, it’s something to watch, and would probably only affect future students and scholars.

One of the more disturbing proposals was his call for a complete ban on Muslims entering the US  “until our country’s representatives can figure out what is going on.” There are a lot of reasons to think that this wouldn’t actually happen — the need for Congressional action, the likelihood that the Supreme Court would overturn it — but the implications if it were to happen would be severe. Not only would it mean that Muslim immigrants would be turned away, but so would refugees, Permanent Residents, and citizens traveling (or serving) abroad. Needless to say, F-1 and J-1 students would be included. On the other hand, this could not be implemented until after Mr. Trump’s inauguration day on January 20, so there’s no reason to panic. You can still enjoy your Winter Break. But after February, if you’re overseas and start to hear about immigration restrictions being debated in Congress, you should probably plan to return before they might be passed or implemented.

As a candidate, Mr. Trump said that he would strengthen immigration security with ‘extreme vetting’ of those arriving from other countries, to screen out radicals who might decide to attack the US or its citizens. This sounds serious, but we don’t really know what he means by that. It is possible that you will need additional documentation, face additional questions, or require references at a visa interview, or on entry. Even if done by executive order, this would take some time to implement, but keep an eye out for news about changes and be prepared for them should they happen.

Generally, international students are off the radar of the President Presumptive and his party. When they do discuss international students, though, Mr. Trump and both parties are generally supportive. In short, international students are an export — you bring money into the country in exchange for education.

The President Presumptive’s signature proposal is to “build a wall” between the United States and Mexico to cut off illegal immigration. This proposal, combined with his proposal for mass deportation, will not directly affect students here on F- or J- visas. The students most affected will be those students who do not have legal status, including those with pseudo-legal status under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). Students with temporary DACA protection may find their status terminated, and that they have to return to living as they did before 2011. Given the slow working of government, and that their DACA status implies that they have demonstrated that they have been law-abiding citizens after their arrival, I suspect that it is more likely that the incoming administration will simply stop taking new applicants and put the brakes on renewals, allowing the program to phase out as cards expire. There is no guarantee of that, though, and it will not require any Congressional action to make whatever changes will be made. Because the program was established by executive order, it can be undone by executive order.

Backlash

In my opinion, the worst part of the outcome of the election has been the huge spike in hate crimes against racial, ethnic, sexual, and religious minorities, and against women. In the ten days after the election, there were 867 recorded incidents of election-related violence (including 23 anti-Trump incidents). When pressed, Mr. Trump disavowed the attacks and asked the people perpetrating them to “stop it.” (Weakly, and late in my opinion, especially as he had ginned up the attitudes that led to this reaction during the campaign — clearly this group of violent extremists thought that he had endorsed their actions.)

Our office is made of a large number of individuals, who will have cast their ballots for any number of people. (In addition to the two major party candidates, there were candidates representing the Green Party, Libertarian Party, Constitution Party, and two socialist parties on the Washington ballot.) I am also certain that if you were to come to anyone in our office because you had a concern for your safety, they would do everything they could to help you out. If there is only one thing that I trust our college’s president about, it is that the safety and security of all students is one of his highest priorities, and I think that priority is reflected throughout the university. If you had an issue to report to any of us, to the campus police, the diversity office, or any of your professors, I am sure your concern would be taken seriously and whoever you talked with would help you deal with it as much as they could. Still, in the famous line from the TV program Barney Miller, “… be careful out there.”867 attacks in 10 days is a scary number, and were I not a white, straight, cis-male citizen, I would be concerned for my safety. As is, I have the luxury of being able to concerned for others. As terrorism, this works. On the other hand, in a country of over 300,000,000 people, this works out to less than three incidents per million people over the course of ten days. (The US is the third largest country in the world by population, but 179th in population density, so it doesn’t feel like there are that many people in this country..) Despite the spike in violence, you are still relatively safe.

Between the changes in policy and the reactions of an extremist subset of his supporters, it’s clear why some international students would fear the result of the recent election. I recommend a position of caution and optimism. You’re students, so you have decades ahead of you, so you have plenty to be optimistic about. On the other hand, do keep track to see what laws and executive orders might be proposed that would affect you. Be aware and be prepared, but don’t worry unless and until something is about to happen. And remember, that you have a community on your side.


I think we do need to take some time to mourn, and some time to assess the results. What appears to be a popular vote majority does make a statement, even if it doesn’t have any effect on the balance of power in DC.

After a short period of mourning, we must organize and prepare the resistance. However, we cannot allow ourselves to take the route that regressives have taken since 2008 — opposing everything and hoping for failure that will bring them to power.

  • Where proposals are made that are good for America, we must support.
  • Where proposals can be made good for America, we must make them so.
  • Where intolerable proposals are made, we must steadfastly block.
    (The Senate Democrats need to make the filibuster a living thing again — no blue slips, no warning, just vote against cloture, start talking, and don’t stop until yielding the floor to another Democrat who is willing to keep it going.)

One thing that this election has emphasized is the extent to which tinkle-down economics and the shifting economy have left behind large sections of our country. We must do better to help people in those areas, communicate how to help people in those areas, and be seen to be helping people in those areas.

We must develop a strong bench. We must fight and win in states, counties, and cities. We must fight for Greens, and Socialists, and Democrats, whoever will stand up for the oppressed; we must all stand up in alliance for workers, women, people of color, the LGBTQIA community, and religious and ethnic minorities. The Republicans usually are the party to nominate the runner-up for the previous nomination, this time the Democrats did (and hardly anyone noticed that Santorum was even running this year). The Republicans had a wide bench. The Democrats had an inspiring septuagenarian who would be nearly 80 were he to run next time.

We must show in our governance, where our allies govern, that progressive and liberal ideals can succeed. We must point out failures by our own allies, so that our allies can correct them. We must point out failures by our opponents, also so that our allies can correct them.

We must stand, shoulder-to-shoulder, and let the people know that we stand for them. The republic stands for them. This republic, which withstood Buchanan and Nixon, will not fall, but will need to heal. We will prevent it from fracturing as much as we can, and will stand ready to help with healing when it is ready to be healed.


Reagnaesque

12Nov16

For anyone who thinks that President-Presumptive Trump is not Reaganesque: he has a fraud trial in November and an incredible number of sexual assault and harressment accusations, even before his first day in office. He’ll be well on the way to top the Reagan Administration’s record of 138 investigations, indictments, or convictions on his own. 


i-voted-stickerI stand proudly with what I said about my vote on Election Day, and I refuse to believe that we live in a country where most people do not share these underlying views. (In fact, it appears that by the popular vote, a majority share not only the views, but the vote.) I believe that those who voted for her opponent’s electors did so despite, not because of, their candidate.

Despite the inevitable decision by the Electoral College, I will stand for progress and liberal values:

I voted not for her; I voted so my daughter and other girls could would know that girls can grow up to be President.
I voted so my wife, my daughter, girls and women would know that we recognize the reality of sexual assault but do not accept it.
I voted so those still working to find work in our economy know that we will build on, not reject, the progress made in the past eight years.
I voted so those who work to make our economy run know that we stand with them, not the rentiers who live off of them and their labor.
I voted for the huddled masses yearning to be free, so they know that America is still the land of opportunity.
I voted so that those who identify as racial or ethnic minorities know that we judge people on the content of their character, not on the color of their skin.
I voted so those discriminated against for their sexual orientation or gender identity know that we stand with them.
I voted for those facing religious bigots turning their homelands into a hell, so they know that we provide refuge and reject religious intolerance.
I voted so veterans know that the land for which they sacrificed appreciates their contributions.
I voted so those with mental health issues know that we recognize their pain and want to offer solutions.
I voted so those who were on our land before us know that we treasure their sacred land and will fight to protect it.
I voted so those with disabilities know that our country recognizes their value in our society.
I voted so those who live on the coasts, know that we will work to keep their homes on dry land.
I voted so those with polluted air, or poisoned water, know that we are going to work to make their air breathable and water drinkable.
I voted so that she can be our standard bearer for the progress we have made in the past 240 years in our country, and the progress we hope to make in the future.
I voted for her, yes, and for so much more.


John McCain, war hero (front, right)

John McCain, war hero and senator (bottom right)/Library of Congress photo

As has been widely reported, blowhard and presidential candidate Donald Trump has belittled John McCain’s (R, AZ) (Silver Star, Legion of Merit With Combat Distinguishing Device and one star, Distinguished Flying Cross, Bronze Star with Combat Distinguishing Device and two stars, Purple Heart with one star, Meritorious Service Medal, Air Medal with one star and numeral ‘2’, Navy Commendation Medal with Combat Distinguishing Device and one Star, Combat Action Ribbon, Prisoner of War Medal, Navy Expeditionary Medal, National Defense Service Medal with one star, Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal, Vietnam Service Medal with two stars, Commander of the National Order of Vietnam, Republic of Vietnam Meritorious Unit Citation, Vietnam Campaign Medal) record of military service, saying “I like people who weren’t captured.” A number of Republican politicians have (appropriately) attacked Trump for his ridiculous attack.

I’m starting to wonder where they were when:

Max Cleland, war hero and senator US Congress photo

Max Cleland, war hero and senator/US Congress photo

  • Tammy Duckworth (D, IL) (Purple Heart, Meritorious Service Medal, Army Commendation Medal with Oak Leaf Cluster, Army Reserve Components Achievement Medal with four Oak Leaf Clusters, Combat Action Badge, Senior Army Aviator Badge) had her service belittled by Joe Walsh.

Tammy Duckworth, war hero and senator/US Congress photo

Tammy Duckworth, war hero and congresswoman/US Congress photo

John Kerry, war hero, senator, Secretary of State/

John Kerry, war hero, senator, Secretary of State

Oh, that’s right. The only thing that matters is that first letter after their names.

Note: if you want to ask J. E. Bush why swiftboating John Kerry is praiseworthy but doing the same to John McCain is reprehensible, you can do so through his website’s contact page.


Iran: WWRRD?

17Jul15

President Ronald Reagan with Caspar Weinberger, George Shultz, Ed Meese, and Don Regan discussing the President's remarks on the Iran-Contra affair, Oval Office

As I hear reports about the new deal with Iran regarding its nuclear program, I have decided to hold it to the standards that conservatives apparently use these days: WWRRD.

As dealings with Iran go, the answer would be: sell the Iranian government weapons in violation of an embargo, in order to illegally fund Central American terrorists trying to overthrow a democratically elected government.

That said, Reagan set a very low bar for U.S. foreign policy with the states on the Persian Gulf and in Mediterranean Asia: Terrorist attack on a Marine barracks in Lebanon? Cut and run. What to do about Saddam Hussein? Sell him chemical weapons, obviously.

Perhaps this new approach is better.




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