Mob Mentality & Twitter

I watched a Ted Talk the other day about online shaming and twitter. It was about the power of social media and how it simultaneously empowers and disconnects. The story was about a woman who’s life was decimated after an insensitive comment she made about her trip to Africa. It was a terrible comment. It destroyed her life while she was in the air and she didn’t know she’d lost everything until she landed.

We attack and attack and attack on social media. Our opinions are the most important thing in the world and we feel that everyone should benefit from our experience and points of view. We poke and prod each and we say terrible things to anyone who will listen. What I don’t get is how some people loose their jobs over things they say and others don’t.

Trump says terrible things about people but it has cost him nothing. It’s about embarrassment. The woman described in the Ted talk lost her job because her company was mortified. Most politicians lose suppot when they say something horrible. It’s the whole “Open foot, insert mouth” thing. That doesn’t seem to touch Trump. I don’t get it and I really want to know how he gets away with it.

Twitter has been a force for change. It’s been a voice when people were otherwise cut off. It has been a wall holding back governmental oppression, and it’s been an angry mob that has forced racist organizations to back off the downtrodden. Is it right, though? Mob rule is never a really great idea but we’re looking to it now to find solace in a terrible decision we’ve made as a Country.

We need to look at the root cause that this thing has happened and, instead of complaining about it on social media, we need to act. By Act I don’t mean riot…. that’s just as if not more stupid. We need to be a cohesive voice without being a mob and that’s a hard line to walk.

Executive Order – Racist?

Executive orders are important to jump start any new president’s time in office. The problems that arise from such unilateral decisions are numerous and largely unpreventable. If one person says “This is the way it’s going to be.” the rest of us kind of have to go along with it…. mostly. The process of creating new laws and amending the governing documents of our nation are in place to prevent one person from calling all the shots. Committees with interests on both sides of a debate are usually consulted. In the case of the most recent presidential decrees, many of which have been cause for alarm, we see clearly what happens when one person making decisions with limited or just plain inaccurate information, can cause a cluster. Let’s look, for instance at the “travel ban” as the media refers to it (aka the Executive order Protecting the nation from foreign terrorist entry into the United States) and what’s wrong with it.

Section 1.  Purpose.  The visa-issuance process plays a crucial role in detecting individuals with terrorist ties and stopping them from entering the United States.  Perhaps in no instance was that more apparent than the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, when State Department policy prevented consular officers from properly scrutinizing the visa applications of several of the 19 foreign nationals who went on to murder nearly 3,000 Americans.  And while the visa-issuance process was reviewed and amended after the September 11 attacks to better detect would-be terrorists from receiving visas, these measures did not stop attacks by foreign nationals who were admitted to the United States.

First off, the documents the terrorist attacks of September 11 and touches on the adjustments America made afterwards. The entire reason we haven’t had another attack of this magnitude is because we did increase the hoops that have to be jumped through to get into this country and we’ve increased the timeline for someone coming in to a two year vetting process. On top of that, none of the countries on the banned list are those these terrorists were from. At the time of this attack, we wanted people from those countries here because typically, Arabian tourists spend a LOT of money here so we weren’t really all that strict about who we let in.

Numerous foreign-born individuals have been convicted or implicated in terrorism-related crimes since September 11, 2001, including foreign nationals who entered the United States after receiving visitor, student, or employment visas, or who entered through the United States refugee resettlement program. Deteriorating conditions in certain countries due to war, strife, disaster, and civil unrest increase the likelihood that terrorists will use any means possible to enter the United States.  The United States must be vigilant during the visa-issuance process to ensure that those approved for admission do not intend to harm Americans and that they have no ties to terrorism.

The truth is, foreign born individuals have attacked the United States before and after 9/11. To be exact, we’ve had 154 terrorists actions in the US between 1975 and 2015. According to the Cato institute, 19 were Saudi Arabian, 14 were Pakistani, 11 were Cuban and 9 were Croatian. Some of those overlap. All the others were 6 or less from other countries. 4 of those Arabs were part of the 9/11 attacks. Deaths cause in those attacks tell an even more disturbing story with 2369 caused by Saudi Arabians between 1975 and 2015, 314 due to foreign nationals from the United Arab Emirates, 162 from Egypt, and 159 from Lebanon. All the other countries listed are single digits or 0. Mexico, incidentally, is 0. It’s also important to note that 2983 of the 3024 murders committed by foreign born terrorists were on 9/11. The Bush administration increased the immigrant guidelines twice. When the Obama administration increased the vetting guidelines and lengthened the process for the third time, they released an infographic to explain the process so we know how it works and it does work. Only three people have been arrested in connection to terrorism plots that came out of the Refugee Admission Program. Two of them were Iraqi refugees arrested on suspicion of planning to send weapons to insurgents in 2011… these are the Bowling Green Brothers (there was no massacre). The third was Uzbek and was arrested for conspiring to obtain materials for bomb making to carry out an attack on US soil.

In order to protect Americans, the United States must ensure that those admitted to this country do not bear hostile attitudes toward it and its founding principles.  The United States cannot, and should not, admit those who do not support the Constitution, or those who would place violent ideologies over American law.  In addition, the United States should not admit those who engage in acts of bigotry or hatred (including “honor” killings, other forms of violence against women, or the persecution of those who practice religions different from their own) or those who would oppress Americans of any race, gender, or sexual orientation.

The problem is that the ban only effects Muslim majority countries which makes us,look like we’re picking out a specific religious / ethnic group. This negates the language condemning bigotry and religious persecution. The line was included, seemingly, as lipservice. This is one of the major problems liberals have with this order.

Sec. 2.  Policy.  It is the policy of the United States to protect its citizens from foreign nationals who intend to commit terrorist attacks in the United States; and to prevent the admission of foreign nationals who intend to exploit United States immigration laws for malevolent purposes.

Section 2 is simply stating intent which is, at first glance, a noble goal for any administrative action. If, however, this was the intent, we would have blocked Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. Trump has said he didn’t want to alienate “…business people and lawyers…” who were traveling. If you’re going to do a thing, don’t show favoritism. If you’re going to hurt people who can’t afford it, hurt those who can equally. It shows that he’s favoring business interests.

Sec. 3.  Suspension of Issuance of Visas and Other Immigration Benefits to Nationals of Countries of Particular Concern.  (a)  The Secretary of Homeland Security, in consultation with the Secretary of State and the Director of National Intelligence, shall immediately conduct a review to determine the information needed from any country to adjudicate any visa, admission, or other benefit under the INA (adjudications) in order to determine that the individual seeking the benefit is who the individual claims to be and is not a security or public-safety threat.

This calls into question the current vetting policies put in place by the Bush and Obama administrations which has significantly curtailed terrorist threat. It’s creating a problem to solve. This is the straw man argument in the action. “We’re going to make people who’ve been vetted, be vetted again because we can and it will make us look like we’re doing something.”

(b)  The Secretary of Homeland Security, in consultation with the Secretary of State and the Director of National Intelligence, shall submit to the President a report on the results of the review described in subsection (a) of this section, including the Secretary of Homeland Security’s determination of the information needed for adjudications and a list of countries that do not provide adequate information, within 30 days of the date of this order.  The Secretary of Homeland Security shall provide a copy of the report to the Secretary of State and the Director of National Intelligence.

Again – complicated language to say “We want to look at these people who were already vetted because we don’t trust the process.” It’s creating more problems to solve.

(c)  To temporarily reduce investigative burdens on relevant agencies during the review period described in subsection (a) of this section, to ensure the proper review and maximum utilization of available resources for the screening of foreign nationals, and to ensure that adequate standards are established to prevent infiltration by foreign terrorists or criminals, pursuant to section 212(f) of the INA, 8 U.S.C. 1182(f), I hereby proclaim that the immigrant and nonimmigrant entry into the United States of aliens from countries referred to in section 217(a)(12) of the INA, 8 U.S.C. 1187(a)(12), would be detrimental to the interests of the United States, and I hereby suspend entry into the United States, as immigrants and nonimmigrants, of such persons for 90 days from the date of this order (excluding those foreign nationals traveling on diplomatic visas, North Atlantic Treaty Organization visas, C-2 visas for travel to the United Nations, and G-1, G-2, G-3, and G-4 visas).

This was a restatment of the initial purpose of the order and says that diplomats, NATO reps, and several other visa types are unaffected but “…immigrants and nonimmigrants…” are not allowed in for a 90 day period. That’s a broad stroke and could apply to people living in the US with green cards and student visas. 217(a)(12) of the INA, 8 U.S.C. 1187(a) refers to the “countries of concern” mentioned in the 2015 Terrorist Travel Prevention act which limited travel of people with already issued visas from countries on a watch list in response to the San Bernardino shootings. It only effected those in the Visa Waiver program, not average travelers or people trying to move here from specific countries. It was supposed to limit the visa waiver program and the Trump administration has used it to block Muslim travelers who have already been granted papers to be here.

(d)  Immediately upon receipt of the report described in subsection (b) of this section regarding the information needed for adjudications, the Secretary of State shall request all foreign governments that do not supply such information to start providing such information regarding their nationals within 60 days of notification.

This is about what we’re going to be asking other countries to provide. We’re asking other countries to send documentation that has already been provided in the original vetting process because, again, we don’t trust ourselves.

(e)  After the 60-day period described in subsection (d) of this section expires, the Secretary of Homeland Security, in consultation with the Secretary of State, shall submit to the President a list of countries recommended for inclusion on a Presidential proclamation that would prohibit the entry of foreign nationals (excluding those foreign nationals traveling on diplomatic visas, North Atlantic Treaty Organization visas, C-2 visas for travel to the United Nations, and G-1, G-2, G-3, and G-4 visas) from countries that do not provide the information requested pursuant to subsection (d) of this section until compliance occurs.

Provision for adding more countries to add to the list in case they missed some “ bad hombres” in the initial banning. It also continues to exclude NATO and other government visas.

(f)  At any point after submitting the list described in subsection (e) of this section, the Secretary of State or the Secretary of Homeland Security may submit to the President the names of any additional countries recommended for similar treatment.

Lets add some more!

(g)  Notwithstanding a suspension pursuant to subsection (c) of this section or pursuant to a Presidential proclamation described in subsection (e) of this section, the Secretaries of State and Homeland Security may, on a case-by-case basis, and when in the national interest, issue visas or other immigration benefits to nationals of countries for which visas and benefits are otherwise blocked.

In this section, we’re now saying we will grant visas to people from blocked countries on a case by case basis once the Trump round of vetting is completed. This is a way to open the borders back up selectively.

(h)  The Secretaries of State and Homeland Security shall submit to the President a joint report on the progress in implementing this order within 30 days of the date of this order, a second report within 60 days of the date of this order, a third report within 90 days of the date of this order, and a fourth report within 120 days of the date of this order.

This is a pretty standard business tactic. Basically, the administration wants an update on how well this is working out in 30, 60, 90, and 120 days after the order. There are thousands of refugees and other immigrants to go through the second vetting process, many of whom were sentenced to death when they were denied entry into this country. Those left are still too many for the departments directed to handle them. It shows unrealistic goal setting.

It goes on from here. I’m not going to go through the whole thing in that detail, but I have read it all and it’s pathetic from a purely objective point of view. It was slapped together too quickly and doesn’t accomplish what it sets out to. Section 4 says three different intelligence departments should put together a vetting program and a central database with reports to the president on how well we’re doing 30, 100, and 200 days after the order. We did that already under Bush and it’s managed by Homeland Security. Section 5 eviscerates the refugee admission program in place and doesn’t provide for what should replace it. Instead, it adds departmental oversight without provision for the current program. It goes on to limit Syrian refugees, the 50,000 originally slated, effectively to 0 and says those 50,000 will not be allowed in until “…I determine that additional admissions would be in the national interest.” That’s not the president’s job and it is not clear it is within his rights as President. Further, this section goes on to say that the Secretary of State and the Director of Homeland Security have the right to ignore the entire document and let whoever they choose in…. on a case by case basis. Claims of religious-persecution are to be prioritized by the secretary of state and reported to the President. One thing in section 5 that is not limiting, is language in sub section g allowing states more freedom or at least…. the promise of greater freedom….. at some point….. eventually…. maybe.

Section 6 tries to broaden the definitions used in INA Act 212 about terrorism and eliminates rights there in granted. It didn’t accomplish much if I’m reading the act correctly and basically says “We’ll look into it”.

Section 7 talks about Biometric tracking of people coming and going. It’s been on the table for a while, but this act fast tracks it and aside form it seeming a little 1984-ish, it’s not a bad idea.

Section 8 is a problem. In person visa interviews are ideal, but they can’t always happen. In many countries, visa interviews are done on secured sites out of their countries. We don’t do that. We force people to come to us instead of going to them of bringing them to us. It limits immigrants to only those able to make multiple trips and that’s not financially feasible for many immigrants. It also provides more Consular jobs and includes foreign language training and increases the length of service for people in the Consular Fellows Program to lower visa interview wait times. Also not a bad idea.

Section 9 says we’re not giving visas to people who won’t give us visas. Section 10 makes our databases public. As Americans, we have a lot of info that’s public record. This would be public record for immigrants. There are good and bad points that could be argued on this. Our information on terrorists, terrorist activity, who’s been removed from the country because of terrorism, etc, would all be public.

In an age where there is so much opinion put forth as news, where people have hair triggers on their twitter feeds and other social media, and in a country that has been divided by fear and rhetoric, I urge each and every person to read the orders coming out of the oval office. It is important to question and not just digest the material fed to you. Do your own research before becoming outraged. Then get something done.