GOP Presidential Candidates Continue to Make Un-American Statements About Syrian Refugees

This is a piece of the cover image from Ted Cruz's Facebook page. Is it supposed to be ironic or something?

This is a piece of the cover image from Ted Cruz’s Facebook page. Is it supposed to be ironic or something?

It has been a depressing week to be an American. As Nick Cassella mentioned this morning, Governor Jay Inslee has been a rare voice of sanity with his vocal opposition to the rush to prosecute American Muslims and turn away refugees. But a cowardly Washington state legislator is loudly arguing against refugees, saying “We cannot differentiate between the innocent refugee who want to come to our shores and live in peace with the individual who is a terrorist who wants to exploit our freedoms and use those freedoms against us to do us harm.” (ISIS is terrified that it’s losing refugees, by the way, and they’re disseminating propaganda in an effort to convince them to come home. These politicians are in fact doing ISIS’s work by agitating to refuse refugees.) Yesterday, Donald Trump even suggested a national database for American Muslims, though he seems to be trying to backpedal right now:

Meanwhile, Marco Rubio tried to add some nuance to Trump’s call to close down mosques, but he kind of backfired when he announced that he wants to shut down any private business—”whether it’s a cafe, a diner, an internet site”— where “radicals are being inspired.” He also said the problem is that we’re not spying on ourselves enough:

The bigger problem we have is our inability to find out where these places are, because we’ve crippled our intelligence programs, both through unauthorized disclosures by a traitor, in Edward Snowden, or by some of the things this president has put in place with the support even of some from my own party to diminish our intelligence capabilities.

Here’s how we know we’ve entered topsy-turvy land: Jeb Bush is the only Republican candidate who’s exactly right about this. ““You talk about closing mosques, you talk about registering people, that’s just wrong,” Bush said. He added, “it’s manipulating people’s angst and their fears. That’s not strength. That’s weakness.” This is the truest thing any Republican running for president has said all week. It will probably cause Bush to plunge in the polls. Back in crazytown, Ted Cruz is tossing kiddie insults at President Obama.

Everyone except Jeb Bush has failed to recognize the fact that our country is great because we welcome more, not fewer, people from diverse backgrounds. The minute we start to play the exclusionary game, the jig is up. An America that does not celebrate a diverse population from around the world is an America in decline.

It’s been a garbage week. Let’s do better than this, America.

Daily Clips: November 20th, 2015

Governor Jay Inslee’s NYT piece on the Syrian Refugees: A must read.

People are right to be angry and hurting because 129 innocent people who thought they were safe were slaughtered in Paris. But we cannot condemn all Syrians or all Muslims for those heinous acts. America has been victimized by domestic and foreign terrorists. The blame for those acts should be with the radicals who committed them, not any religion, race or country of origin.

I don’t deny or condemn the fear that has swelled since the Paris attacks. But fear can be overcome. We can take a deep breath, stand up straight and make a realistic assessment of risk. And we can’t forget the times we have been tested, both when we’ve failed and when we’ve succeeded.

Donald Trump and his Muslim database: Oh, look: you’re more likely to be xenophobic if you’re Christian! Let’s not forget this chart as we point blame at Trump. It’s sad to say, but he is merely promoting the viewpoints of the vast majority of the GOP base.

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Economists tested 7 welfare programs to see if they made  people lazy. They didn’t. A fascinating read which should be useful, as you argue with your conservative uncle this Thanksgiving.

Even Gun Owners Think the NRA Has Gone Too Far

1024px-National_Rifle_Association.svgNow that the NRA has been defeated at the ballot box twice in Washington state, the organization appears to be reeling from internal discord. It seems that NRA leadership has fallen out of touch with the needs and desires of NRA members. Need proof? The Center for American Progress released the astounding results of a Public Policy Polling survey of gun owners yesterday.

This survey demonstrates the existence of an American populace that doesn’t resemble its radical lobbying group in the least. A vast majority, some 83 percent, of gun owners want background checks on all gun sales nationwide. Those are jaw-dropping numbers. Think about it—that’s more than eight out of ten of all gun owners. And way more than half of all gun owners—66 percent—say they’d be more likely to support a politician who does support background checks. But the real eye-opener is this result:

Only 29 percent of gun owners feel that the NRA represents their thinking when it comes to background checks, with 62 percent saying the NRA is out of line with them on the issue. That fits in with a broader feeling that the NRA has lost it way: 59 percent of gun owners feel that the NRA used to be an organization devoted to gun safety but that it has been overtaken by lobbyists and the interests of gun manufacturers and lost its original purpose and mission. Nearly one-third of NRA members believe the organization has lost its way.

Roughly one out of every three NRA members believe their organization is out of step with their beliefs. If the NRA’s claims that they have 4.5 million members is accurate, that’s about one and a half million people. Imagine the kind of explosive headlines we’d be seeing if this were a poll of Democrats, or Catholics. The NRA is an organization that has been unchallenged for far too long, and, like any cash-heavy lobbying group, they’ve become removed from the goals and desires of the people they’re supposed to represent. With numbers like that, we might not be too far from an organized revolt from within the NRA. This many people can’t be unsatisfied with a group doing advocacy in their name without some sort of repercussions.

Daily Clips: November 19th, 2015

Clinton offers a more hawkish foreign policy than Obama: In one of the most predictable moves of this primary season, Clinton has “urged a more aggressive approach” to fighting ISIS. She’s doing this for two reasons: 1) because it’s campaign season and 2) because she’s drastically trying to separate herself from Obama’s legacy without pushing too far away.

All of this goes to show that our next president, regardless of the party, will be far more willing to blow sh*t up. Here’s the full transcript from Hillary’s speech on ISIS.

Scariest headline of the day: Please, George F. Will, N.S. Cassella wants you to retire.

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US weekly jobless claims continuing to decline: According to CNBC, “the number of Americans filing for unemployment benefits fell last week, pointing to a fairly robust labor market.” Claims have now been held below 300,000 for the 37th consecutive week. This is an important measurement, because claims below this level are most often associated with a healthy jobs market.

Fear is making the GOP’s job easier: EJ Dionne’s most recent piece can be perfectly summarized in these two sentences: “There are equally good reasons for Republican politicians to encourage voters to think about their fears of terrorism, their worries about immigrants and their feelings toward Islam. For the moment, dreadful and genuinely frightening news is making the GOP’s job easier.”

Welcome to America, Where We Turn Away Orphans Out of Fear but Allow Suspected Terrorists to Buy Guns

This is the front page of today's New York Daily News.

This is the front page of today’s New York Daily News.

The American response to the terrorist attacks in Paris has been horrifying. This cowardly refusal to accept Syrian refugees has done real damage to the American ideal of accepting “your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.” Only a handful of governors, including Jay Inslee, have responded to the attacks by opening their arms to Syrian refugees, and the rest have adopted an utterly un-Christian stance of fear and hatred. On the right, presidential candidates have demanded (unconstitutional) tests to “prove” Christianity before refugees are allowed in the US. President Obama, meanwhile, has rightfully mocked anti-refugee protesters of being “worried about three-year-old orphans.” Max Fisher at Vox looked at six ways the anti-refugee rhetoric fails to reflect reality. For one thing, governors can’t legally refuse refugees. For another, America vets its refugees very well. For a third, the Parisian attackers authorities have identified up until now have not been Syrian refugees.

Even worse, many of the same people who refuse to accept refugees have actively fought against policies that would help keep guns out of the hands of terrorists. Today the New York Daily News reported:

The NRA — and their gun-loving Republican cohorts — are refusing once more to stop terrorists intent on getting armed in the U.S.A.

A legal loophole allows suspected terrorists on the government’s no-fly list to legally buy guns, but a bill to fix that will likely wither on the vine. The federal Denying Firearms and Explosives to Dangerous Terrorists Act, even in the wake of last week’s terrorist killing of 129 people in Paris, remains a long shot due to its rabid pro-gun opponents.

The News goes on to report, “more than 2,000 suspects on the FBI’s Terrorist Watchlist bought weapons in the U.S. over the last 11 years.” So while Americans fall over themselves trying to deny citizenship to a group of people based on religious grounds, they fail to support actual legislation that could keep weapons out of the hands of terrorists.

This is all backwards thinking. For a moment, let’s set aside the fact that it’s morally right to accept refugees. It’s also economically smart to accept refugees. America’s economy is successful because we’re a diverse nation, one that welcomes a variety of perspectives. As Nick Hanauer wrote here in September:

Innovation is an evolutionary process and, just like in the biological world, diversity is the key to evolution. The more cognitive diversity we have—the more people simultaneously approaching the same problem from as many different backgrounds and perspectives as possible—the greater the rate of innovation. It’s not how hard you try; it’s how many different ways you try to solve a problem that leads to success. Innovation is driven by differences, not sameness.

The evidence is clear: diversity does not hinder growth—it supercharges it. That has always been America’s competitive advantage: we have the most diverse workforce in the world, and for all our problems, we do a better job of integrating diversity than anyone else. Diversity is America’s most valuable resource; it is what makes us the most innovative nation on Earth.

Need more proof that diversity spurs innovation? Consider one of the most famous men of the last twenty years, who happened to be the son of a Syrian migrant. How many future innovators are we turning away out of nothing more than base fear? How many of our other policies are failing us even as the most timid Americans slap together hypotheticals to form a nonsensical refugee system based on nothing more than hearsay? This has not been a good week to be an American.

Gov. Jay Inslee stands up against anti-refugee bigotry

Jay Inslee made a bold and morally brave statement earlier this week, declaring that “Washington will continue to be a state that welcomes those seeking refuge from persecution, regardless of where they come from or the religion they practice.” He scolded over half of the nation’s governors who have publicly stated they do not want refugees in their states, calling such language “of little value except to divide people and foment intolerance.”

Today, Inslee defended his position to NPR: “I think that our nation is tested from time to time, and I think this is one of those times to really dig deep and see what kind of charter our nation and my state has. I’ve always believed my state and the country has always been a place of refuge for those who have been persecuted…”

During the interview, Inslee said he understands the criticism that has been directed his way, claiming, “Fear is a powerful thing and these atrocities strike deep…but I think leadership calls for people to yes, recognize it’s real and act responsibly.”

Inslee pointed out that America has not always been able to overcome the “dark impulses” which fear and death bring about. Specifically, he spoke out about his own state’s experience of “locking up Washington and American citizens” and by that he means when the federal government sent Japanese Americans to internment camps. He noted that during this dark time in our nation’s history, “we lost moorage of who we are as a country.”

You can listen to the full interview here.

Daily Clips: November 18th, 2015

Washington Gov. Inslee welcomes Syrian refugees: Here’s an NPR segment with our Governor, Jay Inslee, who talks about the importance of supporting Syrian refugees fleeing from civil war. His words are full of wisdom and humanity, putting him at odds with over half of the nation’s xenophobic governors.

Hillary Clinton and her paid leave problem: Recently, Hillary Clinton has been attacking Bernie Sanders’ position on taxes; namely, that some of his proposals like paid family leave will require tax increases for middle-class Americans.

During last week’s debate, Clinton stated, “Hard working, middle-class families need a raise, not a tax increase.” That is a great soundbite, but how would she actually pay for 12 weeks of paid family leave without taxing the middle class?

A Clinton aide claims, “She supports a different way to pay for [paid leave] and so will be outlining additional ideas for ensuring the wealthiest Americans pay their fair share.” For now, your guess is as good as mine.

Race-baiting for the presidency: This article takes a historical look at the use of race in presidential elections and how racial divides have been callously employed since the birth of our nation. The takeaway message, in my opinion, can be summed up in this line:

It may be the case that [racial divineness may be] a useful approach in some primary contests, but quite damaging in a general election with a more diverse electorate.

In the maelstrom of bigotry, Republicans have forgotten this cogent piece of advice.

Elizabeth Warren Delivers Stinging Critique Of Efforts To Reject Syrian Refugees: “We are not a nation that delivers children back into the hands of ISIS murderers.”

Daily Clips: November 17th, 2015

Obama tells Republican governors it’s “not American” to only accept Christian refugees: At the G20 summit, Obama had harsh words for our nation’s top xenophobic governors, stating, “When I hear political leaders suggesting that there would be a religious test for which 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.” He also urged leaders to not give in to their “dark impulses” when it came to this matter.

David Brooks is misleading you or he’s an idiot: In his latest spiritual-babble column, Brooks laments how the “secular substitutes for religion — nationalism, racism and political ideology — have all led to disaster.”

You’ve got to be kidding me. As a secularist, I find it highly insulting that Brooks thinks I substitute religious meaning in the world for nationalism, racism and political ideology. The man’s a bigot. And it appears he’s not very well acquainted with secularism, however that unfortunately did not stop him from writing about it.

Rubio’s plan to keep the poor out of higher education: “But education is not what Republicans are about, and this debate was aimed, naturally, at GOP primary voters. Hence, swipe at egghead philosophers, who by definition (in the Tea Party view), belong to the liberal intelligentsia. That was just the very well-educated, not-a-welder Marco Rubio playing to his nativist party’s epic anti-intellectualism.”

Yellen urges rejection of rule-based monetary policy proposal: According to Reuters, “Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen on Tuesday condemned a proposal in the U.S. Congress that would require the central bank to tie interest rate policy to a mathematical rule, arguing this would ‘severely damage the U.S. economy.'”