Dear Congress and Donald Trump: Let Mr. Motawakil into the Country

terminal_e_waiting_areaMohasif Motawakil risked his life by becoming an interpreter for US troops in Afghanistan in 2012. Despite the dangers to himself and his family he made the choice to help the Americans that were there, potentially saving our service members lives.

After waiting for years to be approved Mr. Motawakil finally had approval for him and his family to come live in America as a thank you for his service in Afghanistan. It should have been a time of immense joy for the Motawakil family.

But that was not to be the case. Instead Mr. Motawakil and his family were detained in Houston and they are being threatened with deportation, a fate that will likely lead to them all being killed upon their return, all because Mr. Motawakil’s medical documents were opened when they shouldn’t have been.

And while this is something to be looked into, it shouldn’t be something where deportation is even suggested. This man risked EVERYTHING to help American service members, when it would have been even easier to just turn his back on them and ensure his own safety.

This is not the way to treat people who risk their lives for our people. This is a situation that every Congressman and every Senator should agree on. Let Mr. Motawakil into the country, he and his family have earned that privilege, and please stop threatening to send this man to his death by returning him to Kabul.

 

Trump and his “National Emergency”

CBP_Tours_San_Diego_Border_Wall_Prototypes_with_POTUS_(25935924167).jpgAs President Trump gets more and more frustrated with the government shutdown it seems he is more and more likely to do the unthinkable, declare the lack of a border wall a “national emergency” and try and use the military to build it.

It’s an unthinkable abuse of power, one that would be instantly contested in court, and almost certainly be blocked. But the mere notion of suggesting that the military should be used to enforce a partisan agenda, is terrifyingly dangerous.  

It is not the job of the military to do the bidding of the President in partisan issues. The fact that this is even a thinkable action to be taken goes to show how far the role of Commander in Chief has gone astray.

The role of the Commander in Chief should be to direct troops into wars that have already been authorized in Congress, or direct troops into a war that is being approved by Congress (something that has been abused by Presidents’ of both parties in recent years).

But the use of the United States military to enforce domestic partisan policies significantly raises the risk of the United States taking a step towards becoming an authoritarian government. If the President can order the military to build his wall, why can’t he order the military to enforce drug policies? Isn’t that a national emergency too? What about immigration control in sanctuary cities? The implications of what the President thinks he can do is appalling and terrifying.

And while attempting to use the military to circumvent Congress will be challenged and overturned in the court system, the mere mention of using them degrades our service members. They joined to serve their country and they deserve better then to be used as political pawns by the President to enforce his domestic political agenda.

The GOP and Trump’s flawed border wall arguments

2560px-mexico-us_border_at_tijuana

The GOP has come up with some creative arguments for trying to justify building an archaic wall to stem illegal immigration at our nations southern border. But the problem with most of their arguments lack substance.

Argument One:

The GOP is the only party that cares about illegal immigration.

The Reality:

Former President Obama, as well as just about every other major leader in the Democratic Party, is against illegal immigration. But what the GOP is against in the Trump era isn’t illegal immigration, it’s immigration from the Middle East, Mexico, Latin America, and South America.

It doesn’t matter if people from Latin America are coming seeking asylum. To Trump they are “invaders” or “terrorists”. People seeking a legal immigration status in the United States are being turned away by the Trump administration before they even have the chance to apply. They are looking to do it legally but are being miscategorized as “illegals” to better fit the Trump narrative.

To be clear Democrats are anti-illegal immigrant, Trump and the GOP are anti-immigrant.

Argument Two:

A border wall will solve our illegal immigration problems.

The Reality:

Most illegal immigrants entering the United States today, around 65 percent, are visa overstays. Additionally, the amount of people crossing the border illegally has been dramatically declining since 2000, from 1.64 million then to just under 304 thousand in 2017.

It all ties into the fact that over 75 percent of the illegal immigrants living in the United States have been here for over a decade, and that only 5 percent of illegal immigrants have arrived in the last 5 years.

The problem facing the illegal immigration crisis in the United States today isn’t that too many people are crossing illegally today, its that too many people were crossing illegally years ago. If we’re going to fix this problem, we need to figure out what to do with the people already here, not spend billions of dollars preventing an “invasion” of people that aren’t coming.

Argument Three:

Mexico really IS paying for the wall

The Reality:

Trump repeatedly ran on the campaign promise that Mexico would pay for the wall, and since being elected he’s repeatedly backtracked on that promise. Any way you cut it, if the money needs to be approved by the United States Congress then the American people are going to be paying for it. And any way you cut it, the American people have far more important things to be funding then an archaic wall that won’t solve our nations illegal immigration problems, namely the trillion dollar deficit and 22 trillion dollar national debt.

Who do you believe, Kavanaugh or Ford? Depends if you’re a Democrat or a Republican.

Mike_Pence,_Brett_Kavanaugh,_Mitch_McConnell,_and_Jon_KylEven in the post-Trump world of US politics not many things have garnered the level of attention and controversy that his confirmation process of Judge Brett Kavanaugh has brought.

Still it’s just another example of the stark political divisions that reside within the country today. Think about it, and whether you believe Judge Kavanaugh or Doctor Christine Blasey Ford can almost always be answered by one simple question, are you a Republican or a Democrat?

And if you think your side has the moral high ground, think again. Because I can guarantee you that if the roles were reversed and it was a Democratic nominee being contested by Republicans you would almost certainly feel the exact opposite of your current stance. All one needs to do is look back at the allegations surrounding former President Bill Clinton to see this.

Think about the situation objectively for a second. A Supreme Court nominee stands accused of sexually assaulting a woman 36 years ago while he was in high school. Currently only two people know what truly happened that day 36 years ago, Judge Kavanaugh and Dr. Ford.

If you claim to “know” otherwise you’re only fooling yourself. You choose to believe Judge Kavanaugh or Dr. Ford, and your belief is likely directly tied to your political views.

If the Senate confirms Judge Kavanaugh and he is guilty they just put a rapist on the Supreme Court. If they deny him the chance to serve on the Court and he didn’t do it, they just ruined an innocent man’s life. It’s an impossible decision to make if you aren’t being influenced by outside factors, which is why the issue is so starkly divided by political lines.

More importantly though, nothing being said in the Senate is going to change anyone’s mind. Republicans will believe Judge Kavanaugh and Democrats will believe Dr. Ford, and once again the political lines that divide this nation will be dug a little deeper.

Both sides need to step back and realize that the accusations around Judge Kavanaugh can never be proven or disproven, and that if they were on the other side of the aisle, they’d be believing the other person. Instead of focusing on the accusations we should be looking at his record on the issues that he will be addressing if he is nominated to the Court.

As a nation we need to start looking at the issues that matter in the country and start ignoring some of the political and media fluff that is designed to draw votes and money.

 

Dear NFL: Take a Knee

Washington Redskins National Anthem Kneeling
Photo Credit: Keith Allison: Raiders at Redskins 9/24/17

With the recent changes to the NFL policy regarding player conduct during the country’s national anthem, and the decision by President Trump to withdraw his offer to the Eagles to show up to the White House for the annual Super Bowl Celebration, the spotlight has turned back to the player protests during the anthem.

The issue has often been convoluted into something it’s not, with many individuals labeling the protesting players as “unpatriotic” or claiming that they are “disrespecting the military”. But by shifting the focus of the protest to something that it has never been about allows those opposed to it to avoid what needs to be talked about, the racial disparities and inequalities present in our country today.

In 2017, 457 white individuals were shot and killed by police. In that same year 223 blacks were shot and killed. This is despite the fact that 63.7 percent of the population is white, while only 12.2 percent of the population is black.

So statistically speaking if you reversed the population percentages (so 63.7 percent of the population is black while 12.2 percent of the population is white) you would have 1,164 black individuals shot and killed by police, and 88 white individuals. And if all these numbers just seem like gibberish to you just remember this one, in the country today blacks are more than 2.5 times more likely to be shot and killed by the police then a white individual.

The sad fact is that this is just one statistic representing the disparity in the way our police force handles black individuals. When you look at statistics on police brutality and other means of excessive or deadly force, the trend remains roughly the same. Blacks are more than 2.5 times more likely to be brutalized by police.

Take a step back here and forget about all the protests and just look at the numbers. It’s clear there is a problem that needs to be addressed. So instead of worrying about the fact that players are kneeling during the anthem, look at WHY they are kneeling.

And in the meantime, lose all that gibberish about the kneeling disrespecting the military, kneeling during the anthem was RECOMMENDED by a veteran to Colin Kaepernick, the athlete that got all this started.

And lose the nonsense stating that kneeling during the anthem makes them “unpatriotic”. This is the country where protesting is your constitutionally guaranteed right and exercising that right surely doesn’t make you hate the country that grants that right to you to begin with, in fact, it might make the individual exercising that right even more grateful to be in a country where they have that right. And wouldn’t that make them even more patriotic?

But most importantly, don’t lose focus on the reasons behind the protests. And if you really want them to stop, start by correcting the issues that caused them in the first place.

Roseanne and Racism: How did we get here?

800px-Roseanne_barr

Roseanne Barr, star of the show Roseanne, was fired by ABC following a racist tweet comparing Valerie Jarrett to a monkey, and conservatives collectively lost their minds.

Let’s begin by getting one thing straight, comparing an African American to a monkey is racist. Failure to recognize this overlooks years of racial oppression and the use of this comparison to marginalize Africans’ and African Americans’ for years. It is racist (If you still can’t wrap your mind around that read more about it here).

Secondly, conservatives being “outraged” by a private organization choosing to act on an individual for making a “political statement” is laughable. After years of conservatives preaching that the NFL should punish players for kneeling during the national anthem, they claim outrage that a private organization can punish an individual for exercising their free speech.

The same conservatives that voted for Donald Trump, who said this about the NFL protesters “Wouldn’t you love to see one of those NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, ‘Get that son of bitch off the field right now. Out. He’s fired. He’s fired!’”

You don’t get to get upset when every private organization doesn’t follow your political and personal ideology. You either continue to support the company or you don’t. Personally, I don’t see a problem with a company condemning racism.

The fact that this has divided the country epitomizes what exactly is wrong with the United States today. Racism in all it’s forms must be stamped out. Since when did that reemerge as a partisan issue? Since when did open racism become acceptable once again? And more importantly, how do we condemn it once and for all?

The Dangerous War on Media

FAKE_NEWS

The war on the media is stronger then ever. If you haven’t heard the term “fake news” you’ve been living under a rock for the last couple of years. Yet it’s still gaining traction every day and the results are dangerous.

First let’s clear a few things up, every journalist has a bias. You see journalists are human, just like you and me, and if you think you can write a political story without any bias you are only fooling yourself. Bias is a human condition, and as such will always be present in the work created by humans.

Second, most journalists that write for national media outlets in the United States have a liberal leaning. This doesn’t make the stories that they cover “fake news”, but it does mean that most national news stories will have a liberal bias. But it doesn’t change the fact that the facts presented in their stories are just that, facts. You see you can disagree with facts all you want, but a fact will remain a fact.

Facts are something that President Trump has convinced himself, and many of his supporters, changes depending on the bias of the story. Yes, a biased story might mean that there is more to the story that isn’t being presented but it doesn’t make it “fake news”, and the facts presented remain relevant.

News today isn’t any more or less biased then it’s been in the past, the difference is that people used to know how to pull the facts out of the story that they were hearing and form their own opinions. They used to get the story from more then one source to make sure they got the whole picture.

Americans today have lost that ability.

And as such Americans are gullible to attacks labeling legitimate media sources as “fake”. You see once you start labeling a news source as fake you have no way of distinguishing reality from fiction. Certain politicians would have you believe that all news sources are fake. Once they convince you of that the only person you feel like you can trust for your information is them. And if they are your news source they can convince you of anything they want to. And at that point you are following the most biased source of all, the politician.

Chemical Warfare: The “Red Line”

Missile Strike.jpgThe coalition strikes in Syria has been subject to a lot of scrutiny and speculation on what is going to happen next. Realistically though, not much is going to change. The fact that the United States didn’t act alone all but assures that.

There isn’t much worry about what Syria is going to do in response, mainly because there isn’t much they CAN do in response. They are going to rely on other countries that support them, like China or Russia, to respond for them, with the only country that might even think about doing something being Russia.

And while the recent strikes are sure to raise tensions, especially between the United States and Russia, I don’t foresee anything else happening, in part because tensions with Russia were so high in the world to begin with.

Russia doesn’t want to get involved in World War III more than any other country in the world, and they know any direct action against United States troops will lead to just that. And by not acting alone, the world has shown that they stand behind the United States against Syria and Russia when it comes to chemical warfare.  

What this latest strike has shown, and will continue to show, is that the United States and President Donald Trump are serious about cracking down on chemical attacks throughout the world. It shows that if chemical weapons are used that the United States will respond. It’s a welcome change in policy from the Obama administration who had set a “red line” on chemical warfare only to back down when the illicit weapons were used.

Quickly, efficiently, and lethally responding to chemical warfare isn’t a partisan issue. If you don’t think that chemical attacks should be retaliated against with lethal and overwhelming force, then you are a part of the problem. Because as the saying goes, if you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything.

Trump’s Transgender Policy: The Rational Solution

transgender

The White House has passed a new policy “banning” transgenders from serving in the United States military, “except under a few limited circumstances”. Without getting into the controversial and often bigoted debate about whether transgenderism is a “disease” or “mental condition” let’s break down the new policy.

If you take an objective look at it, what it does is prevent individuals from transitioning genders while they are in the military. Which falls under policies currently in place for military members already.

Don’t believe me? Military members are kicked out if they are not deployable for 12 consecutive months. How long does it take to transition? Best case scenario is two years. For those two years they are nondeployable. So, under current policies they should be kicked out.

As far as it being a full “ban” on transgendered individuals, it’s not. When you look at the exceptions made all they do is ensure that individuals can’t transition after they join. Let’s break down the “limited circumstances” that the White House has outlined.

The first exception laid out by the White House policy is that individuals who have been “stable for 36 consecutive months in their biological sex prior to accession” may join. In layman’s terms, if an individual fully transitioned 3 years ago they can join the military.

While an argument can be made on whether this is necessary, it is hardly the only thing that can require a mandatory waiting time. For instance, anyone who has gotten LASIK or PRK must wait 12 months before they are eligible to join.

Now 36 months is overkill to ensure that no unexpected health issues arise from the transition process, but so is 12 months for eye surgery. That’s just how the military does things. Should the mandatory waiting time probably be less? Yes, and it might change after the courts get a hold of it.

The second exception is for those individuals that “do not require a change of gender”. Now this reeks of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, but once you get over the guttural response to the wording, you can understand why this is a necessary provision. If an individual wants to join the military and is willing to forego the medical process of transitioning they should be able to do so. In an idealistic world this wouldn’t be necessary, but in an idealistic world we wouldn’t need a military.

The final exception is for those transgender individuals that are already in the military. They can stay in. This is the right thing to do. You don’t tell people they can do something, then kick them out for doing it.

So, while media sources go nuts on this new policy, President Trump is right when he says it’s what senior military leaders want. They are tired of having a force that isn’t fully deployable. And transitioning members only add to that number.

Omnibus 2018: An example of Republican Hypocrisy

 

Trump signs bill
Photo Credit

 

2,232 pages. The largest funding increase in United States history. Less then 24 hours for Congress to read it before voting. Everything the Republican party has stood against for the last 10 years. It’s hard to imagine voters in 2016 imagined this when they gave the GOP control of the House of Representatives, the Senate, and the White House. It’s also hard to imagine that this November voters are going to be forgiving.

I am a fiscal conservative. But it seems to me that the Republican party is no longer the fiscally conservative party. After years of President Obama and the Democratic party lowering the national deficit, I had high hopes that the Republican party would come in and finish what Obama started. I was dead wrong.

The deficit is back over a trillion dollars, and the debt is over 21 trillion. President Trump has stated that this will be the last time he signs a bill like this.  I believe him. Why? Because the Republican party is going to lose control of the House, and likely the Senate in November, and Democrats aren’t going to make the same mistakes the GOP just made.

You see if Trump was presented with another massive spending bill he would sign it. But he won’t be presented with one. Democrats won’t give him that chance and come 2020 Trump won’t be sitting in the White House. Now don’t get me wrong I’m not saying a Republican won’t, but I don’t see any path for another 4 years of Trump.

The number one priority for our country right now isn’t to build up our military, our even to create a path to citizenship for DREAMers, although both are noble goals. The number one priority should be getting our massive debt under control. If not, it will cripple our military, our economy, and our country. Why can’t the Republican party see this?

Is it as simple as Democrats state, and Republicans will say anything to get elected? Or is there something else that I’m missing?