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Sunday, January 29, 2017

Mr Popularity

by digby

Los Angeles Women's March, Jan 21, 2017

In case you were wondering, he's slipping rapidly:
President Donald Trump’s net approval rating dropped by eight points in his first week in the Oval Office, according to daily polls tracked by Gallup.

On Sunday Jan. 22, two days after being sworn in, 45 percent of respondents said they disapproved of Trump’s job performance and 45 percent approved. By Friday Jan. 27, the percentage who disapproved rose to 50 and percentage who approved dipped to 42.

Trump has had a busy but rocky first week in office, signing off a series of executive orders laying out major policy changes like a temporary ban on refugees and on citizens from seven majority-Muslim nations. He had a friendly meeting with British Prime Minister Theresa May on Friday, but raised tensions with Mexican president Enrique Peña-Nieto over his insistence that Mexico will pay for a southern border wall that the country does not want.

Other national surveys show similarly low approval ratings for the President. Forty-four percent of respondents to a Quinnipiac survey released Thursday said they disapproved of his handling of the presidency thus far, while only 36 percent approved.
He's made it clear that he's ONLY representing the so-called "forgotten" Americans --- the people who voted for him. He doesn't give a damn about any of the rest of us. The GOP congress might have to care eventually though. Maybe.

As for the popularity of the Muslim ban it's not quite as clear-cut. Throughout the campaign I was horrified to read polls showing that majorities were for it. And huge majorities of Republicans absolutely loved it. (Today, the polling suggests much of the country has mixed feelings.)

The support comes from this:

Type the word refugees into Facebook and some alarming “news” will appear about a refugee rape crisis, a refugee flesh-eating disease epidemic and a refugee-related risk of female genital mutilation — none of it true.

For the months leading up to the presidential election, and in the days since President Trump took office, ultraconservative websites like Breitbart News and Infowars have published a cycle of eye-popping stories with misleading claims about refugees. And it is beginning to influence public perception, experts say.

That shift was evident on Friday, as many Americans heralded the news that the Trump administration intended to temporarily curb all refugee resettlementand increase the vetting of Syrians.

“There really is a kind of cultural battle going on,” said Cecillia Wang, the deputy legal director for the American Civil Liberties Union. “There’s no question that kind of xenophobic or anti-Muslim bias is infecting our political discourse about refugees.”

In speaking to pollsters about refugee resettlement, Americans tend to cite concerns about the country’s national security and economic health as their biggest worries, but they have also begun to point to disease or rape, experts say.

“This is something where the fear outruns the fact by a factor of 100 to 1 or even 1,000 to 1,” said William Galston, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution who has tracked American sentiment about refugee resettlement over years. 
Infowars, July 6, 2016: Muslim Refugees Causing Rape Epidemic in the U.S.

Mr. Galston said the reaction to misleading coverage of refugees was reminiscent of the wave of measures introduced in state legislatures in recent years to stop the spread of Islamic law, despite scant evidence that it has been promoted anywhere. And while he doubted that alarmist stories about refugees were powerful enough to change people’s minds, he said the coverage played to existing fears and pushed mere differences of opinion into hyperpartisan outrage.

“I think their opinions are being intensified because the intensification of contrary sentiments is increasing polarization,” Mr. Galston said.
Breitbart, Aug. 2, 2015: Muslim Immigration Puts Half a Million U.S. Girls at Risk of Genital Mutilation

Outside his job as a police officer in Kansas, Okla., Mike Eason begins and ends his day with the television news — first CBS, then Fox, but never CNN, which he hates. Then, he scrolls through Facebook, where he’s read stories about refugees who commit violent crimes against women.

“It’s one of them Facebook things where you see Muslim men are attacking women, and stuff like that, and having no respect for them at all. I’ve got a real issue with that,” he said. “I see story after story after story, and I don’t know how true it is.”

Mr. Eason said he was skeptical of stories by unfamiliar websites like American News, but he reads them anyway. He commented on one that was posted to Facebook:
Freedom’s Final Stand, Oct. 3, 2016: Muslim Refugee Beats and Rapes Woman in North Dakota While Yelling ‘Allahu Akbar’

The post, which was shared 14,000 times, linked to a story about a case in which the authorities have not described the immigration status of the suspect, or said that he was a noncitizen. They have also discredited the claim that the man yelled “Allahu akbar” during the episode.

Nevertheless, the comment that Mr. Eason posted on the site, which he later said he could not remember making, garnered 87 likes. “If Muslims are taught hate by their religion,” he wrote, “then all Muslims are potential terrorists and should be treated accordingly. TRUMP will stop this kind of stuff.”

Sgt. Timothy Briggeman of the Cass County Sheriff’s Office in North Dakota, which is investigating the case, said such stories and responses often appeared on social media when a person in his jurisdiction with an Arabic-sounding name is charged with a crime.

“To be honest,” he said, “it’s embarrassing and it’s disheartening when anyone with a name of such ends up in the news — the comments that get thrown around. That seems to be the No. 1 remark: ‘Send them back and get rid of them,’ and, ‘We don’t need them.’”

Worries that refugees might be radicalized have also been amplified on the internet. This story was shared at least 1,400 times:
Conservative Tribune, Jan. 11, 2016: Al Qaeda Terrorists That Killed Soldiers Have Entered the U.S. Disguised as Refugees

And this one, posted by The Daily Caller, was shared more than 3,000 times, despite linking to a story with no evidence of a cover-up:
The Daily Caller, Dec. 7, 2015: Homeland Security Chair: Obama Covering Up Evidence ISIS Is Targeting Refugee Plan

The actual number of refugees who have become extremists in the United States has been estimated at between three and 12 — out of the more than 800,000 who have resettled here since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

The online stories about refugees range from outright fake news to those based on a grain of truth and then stretched out of proportion. For example, the Breitbart article about genital mutilation was based on a study that estimated that a half-million women currently living in the United States have had their genitals mutilated. But most of them were immigrants who had fled here because of such treatment in their home countries.

Mr. Eason, the police officer in Oklahoma, said that part of the challenge for him in evaluating stories on the internet is that many are written with headlines that appeal to common sense.

He pointed to the vetting of Syrian refugees, for example, which is currently under review as part of Mr. Trump’s executive order. As The New York Times has reported, the process involves dozens of layers of evaluation and can last up to two years.

But Mr. Eason has read stories that suggest the conditions in Syria are so bad that it is impossible to verify refugees’ stories, which has made him worry that no level of scrutiny will be sufficient.

“They were saying with them coming from these areas, it’s hard to vet them,” Mr. Eason said. “And it makes sense.”

This is a big part of our problem. When George W. Bush was president he kept a lid on this stuff, his administration aware of how easily their voters could be persuaded to dive head first into racial and ethnic hatred. That's all gone now. And the right wing media has gone crazy with this stuff, despite the fact that whatever terrorist attacks have happened in America since 9/11 have been at the hands of homegrown terrorists not refugees or immigrants.

But don't worry, that fact is going to be made clear quite soon and Trump will take measures to deal with it.

*Oh, and by the way, Breitbart's former leader Steve Bannon is reportedly extremely influential, and has now been elevated to the National Security Council, while the Director of National Intelligence and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs are no longer permanent members.