Monday, January 30, 2017

"He started a joke/which started the whole world crying..."

Trump started it yesterday:

My policy is similar to what President Obama did in 2011 when he banned visas for refugees from Iraq for six months. The seven countries named in the Executive Order are the same countries previously identified by the Obama administration as sources of terror. 

His minions kept it up today.

White House press secretary Sean Spicer on Sunday defended President Donald Trump’s latest executive order on immigration and refugee vetting, arguing the Obama administration originally flagged the seven “countries of particular concern.”

“The Obama administration put these first and foremost,” Spicer told ABC’s “This Week.”
So, here's what happened under Obama:

The Department of Homeland Security today announced that it is continuing its implementation of the Visa Waiver Program Improvement and Terrorist Travel Prevention Act of 2015 with the addition of Libya, Somalia, and Yemen as three countries of concern, limiting Visa Waiver Program travel for certain individuals who have traveled to these countries.

Pursuant to the Act, the Secretary of Homeland Security had sixty days to determine whether additional countries or areas of concern should be subject to the travel or dual nationality restrictions under the Act. After careful consideration, and in consultation with the Director of National Intelligence and the Secretary of State, the Secretary of Homeland Security has determined that Libya, Somalia, and Yemen be included as countries of concern, specifically for individuals who have traveled to these countries since March 1, 2011. At this time, the restriction on Visa Waiver Program travel will not apply to dual nationals of these three countries. DHS continues to consult with the Department of State and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence to develop further criteria to determine whether other countries would be added to this list.

Last month, the United States began implementing changes under the Act. The three additional countries designated today join Iran, Iraq, Sudan and Syria as countries subject to restrictions for Visa Waiver Program travel for certain individuals. Under the new law, the Secretary of Homeland Security may waive these restrictions if he determines that such a waiver is in the law enforcement or national security interests of the United States. Such waivers will be granted only on a case-by-case basis. As a general matter, categories of travelers who may be eligible for a waiver include individuals who traveled to these countries on behalf of international organizations, regional organizations, and sub-national governments on official duty; on behalf of a humanitarian NGO on official duty; or as a journalist for reporting purposes.
Emphasis added.

Note, first, this decision in February of last year was reached "in consultation with the Director of National Security and the Secretary of State" and the Secretary of Homeland Security.  Well, we don't have a Secretary of State just now (or the top four people in the State Department).  And Trump's Secretary of DHS learned about the executive order after Trump signed it.

As for the similarity of countries named in Trump's order v. the countries "named" by Obama, let us please note DHS in 2016 was acting pursuant to a 2015 law, and in accordance with that law it promulgated rules to implement that law.  Congress named those countries, not President Obama on his own initiative.  The DHS Secretary took 60 days to determine what countries should be added to "travel or dual nationality restrictions under the Act."  The Department announced it would release "an updated Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) application with additional questions on travel to Libya, Somalia, and Yemen" in the spring of that year, to address other questions about travel.

Trump created international chaos, and then went off to watch "Finding Dory."  He acted, in other words, entirely unilaterally.  He acted like a king, or a CEO firing off a company memo.  He is neither, and he nor his staff seem to understand that.  Trump flackeys were telling NPR this morning that his order covers the same countries as Obama did.  However, Obama didn't ban anyone from any country.  The countries were selected under a law passed in 2011, and again in 2015.  It was determined by Congress, after committee hearings and discussion.  Rules were passed after deliberation and, again, pursuant to law.  Most importantly, chaos was not created.  Travelers were not detained at airports, or returned to their countries of origin where their passports were seized.

Governments don't exist to create chaos, but to prevent it.  Chaos is the lack of governance; it is the absence of government.  The chaos Trump created over the weekend is the very opposite of governance.  His petulant refusal to take responsibility for what he did, to try to blame the media for the chaos his order created, is profoundly disturbing, and certainly brings us into 25th Amendment territory.  But the sheer childishness of "But Obama did it first!" is breath-taking.  Besides, could it be clearer the President doesn't understand how government works?  Under Obama DHS formulated rules pursuant to law, and announced the rules would take effect with systems in place to apprise those affected of what the rules change would mean.  Our President, on the other hand:

If the ban were announced with a one week notice, the "bad" would rush into our country during that week. A lot of bad "dudes" out there!

Every time you think it can't get worse.

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