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Hullabaloo


Friday, November 20, 2015

 
Trump, eliminationism and the feckless Dems

by digby

I wrote about Trump and the feckless Democrats for Salon this morning. I start off by recapping his creepy fascistic comments about registering Muslims for a tracking database. This one comment sums it up but there's a lot more. (Click over if you haven't seen them in detail.)

“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. And certain things will be done that we never thought would happen in this country in terms of information and learning about the enemy. And so we’re going to have to do certain things that were frankly unthinkable a year ago.”


Here's an excerpt of what follows:
The MSNBC reporter asked him why Muslims databases would be different than having Jews register in Nazi Germany. He replied, “You tell me.”
So, the leading candidate for the Republican nomination for president has once more upped the ante on the xenophobia that’s been sweeping through the right wing for some time. Mexicans, Muslims, it all the same. Gotta build that wall, track them, deport them, keep ’em out.
Unfortunately, the nervousness coursing though society after the terrorist attack in Paris has made this kind of talk sound less unreasonable to more people, and we had the Congress yesterday struggling to find a way to appease voters who were calling into their offices demanding that refugees be denied entry into the country. All but two of the Republicans in the House and a total of 47 Democrats voted for a bill that would require the heads of DHS, the FBI and the DOJ to personally sign off on each refugee’s file.
Democratic Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard from Hawaii voted with the Republicans and explained on MSNBC that this would sooth the fears of Americans to know that these very high level officials were personally vouching for each and every refugee. This is obviously a disingenuous explanation of the purpose of the bill. This new requirement will have the effect of sending all the refugees currently awaiting their determination to basically start anew. Requiring these officials to sign off on on each applicant will slow down the process to a very slow trickle, or what Speaker Paul Ryan called “a pause.”
The Democrats provided enough votes to override a presidential veto.
Greg Sargent in the Washington Post reported that it’s assumed the Senate will not pass this bill and will try to divert attention from the refugees to the “visa waiver” program which allows people carrying certain passports of allied European countries to travel to the US without going through the visa process. The purported concern is that French or British nationals who travel to Iraq or Syria for training and then come back to their home country can fly to the U.S. without any vetting. It does sound like a wide-open loophole, but one can’t help but wonder why it hasn’t happened if it’s so easy. If a French terrorist can just hop on a plane and come to America to wage jihad it seems like a no-brainer.
Actually, it’s fairly obvious that these people are already on the no-fly list and are probably being tracked by other means as well. Last August it was reported that DHS was implementing other safeguards and working with foreign countries to use a common database. The program has been under intense scrutiny for some time.
Still, there is no obvious reason not to deny a visa waiver to anyone who has travelled to one of the designated countries within the last five years, which is the reported plan. Some businessmen and oil executives will be inconvenienced but they can either obtain visas the normal way or the government will come up with some kind of special vetting for business travellers. If the Congress needs to be seen to “do something” to keep the terrorists out, this is more reasonable than denying asylum to desperate refugees.
The explanation as to why 47 Democrats would join in this immigrant bashfest is as prosaic as it is depressing. They fear being called “soft on terrorism.” A bunch of hysterical voters who listen to demagogues on cable TV and talk radio called their offices to demand they put a stop to this foreign threat. Rather than be leaders and try to calm the waters, they just went with the flow, knowing that this legislation is unlikely to become law, but wanting to be able to tell their constituents they voted to bar refugees from our shores and keep the children safe. (Well, the good American children anyway. Syrian children will not be so lucky.)
Why they believe this will work for them is unknown. If they believe the threat of refugees will be a big issue a year from now and their seats are so precariously held that they have to abandon all reason in order to keep them, they are probably going to lose anyway. Voters who succumb to xenophobia will likely vote for the Republican alternative. Stoking paranoia is the GOP specialty.
And anyway, this is a soulless sort of politics. This isn’t a highway bill or a tax hike. It’s an issue of life and death. These are votes that should be taken on merit, not political calculation (which very often turn out badly — ask Hillary Clinton). And feeding this xenophobic beast in an environment in which the frontrunner of the Republican Party is endorsing government registration of American Muslims is a very risky business. This kind of thing can get out of hand  quickly.
Read on. It's getting worse.

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