Archive

February 16th, 2017

Living in fear as a refugee in the U.S. is terrible for your health

    For the past few weeks, the young man's heart has been racing. His hands are sweaty. During the day, he has flashbacks of the world he fled in El Salvador: gang members chasing him, threatening murder. Nightmares of the same scenes disturb his sleep. He's not a patient in my psychiatric practice. Just another young guy studying for his high school equivalency diploma at the Latin American Youth Center in Washington. Like the 4,000 other kids taking classes there, he's been worrying as he watches what the center's chief executive, Lori Kaplan, calls "the big reality show . . . on cable news - and the tweets."

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It's never too soon for a functional White House

    Perhaps we're getting somewhere. From a Politico profile of an administration ending its third week:

    "The interviews paint a picture of a powder-keg of a workplace where job duties are unclear, morale among some is low, factionalism is rampant and exhaustion is running high. Two visitors to the White House last week said they were struck by how tired the staff looks.

    "In Washington circles, talk has turned to whether a staff shake-up is in the works.

    "One person close to Trump said: 'I think he'd like to do it now, but he knows it's too soon.' "

    It is most certainly not "too soon."

    It's not entirely clear how much of what's wrong would be cured by imposing a proper structure onto a Donald Trump White House. The president would still be ill-informed, intemperate, and just entirely unsuited for the job.

    However, putting a real chief of staff in charge would at least help compensate for Trump's utter lack of management skills.

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If the press skips the White House correspondents' dinner, we would prove President Trump's point

    The White House Correspondents' Association dinner is not a mood ring. It doesn't care if President Donald Trump - or any president - likes, dislikes, celebrates, scorns or ignores White House reporters. The annual gala does not indicate, illustrate or represent the relationship between the White House and the reporters who cover it. It is an institution that celebrates one bedrock American value, the First Amendment, and two journalistic goals: to highlight excellent reporting and to award scholarships to the next generation of American journalists.

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I worked for the U.S. Army in Iraq. But when I landed in America, I was detained.

    I started working with the U.S. Army, Bravo Company 1st Battalion, 187th Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) in Baghdad on March 1, 2003. I joined because of my complete faith that the United States had come to Iraq to give us our freedom and dignity back and remove injustice.

    Despite my decade of service to the United States, when I finally got my visa and arrived in New York late last month, I was detained for more than 18 hours at the airport because of the ban President Trump ordered on travel from Iraq and six other mostly Muslim nations. This was not the America I knew. Maybe the ban is not really reflective of America: It has been blocked by the courts so far, including a federal appeals court ruling Thursday night, so that it cannot take effect while it's being challenged.

    When I was first detained, I was disappointed and surprised. But when I was released, my faith was again restored. I was moved by the crowds of people who came to welcome me. And I'm so glad that I have come to live here with my wife and our three children.

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Franklin Graham said immigration is 'not a Bible issue.' Here's what the Bible says.

    While many religious groups have come out against President Trump's immigration ban, some significant figures in the faith community, including Liberty University's Jerry Falwell Jr., have stood in support of it. Attempting to defend the ban from a religious point of view, evangelist Franklin Graham declared, "That's not a Bible issue."

    He could not be more wrong.

    Both the Hebrew Bible and the New Testament are clear and consistent when it comes to how we are to treat the stranger. Across the books of both testaments, in narrative, law, prophecy, poetry and parable, the Bible consistently spells out that it is the responsibility of the citizen to ensure that the immigrant, the stranger, the refugee, is respected, welcomed and cared for. It is what God wants us to do, but it also recognizes that we too were immigrants - and immigrants we remain. "Like my forebears, I am an alien, resident with you," says Psalm 39.

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Footing the Bill for Trumps

    All these Trumps are getting damned expensive.

    Last month, taxpayers forked over nearly $100,000 to protect Eric Trump while he was on a business trip to Uruguay. And the Defense Department is looking to rent space in Trump Tower — which goes for as much as $1.5 million a year per floor — so they can bring the nuclear launch codes along when the president comes to visit his wife in New York.

    The mere idea of Donald Trump and the nuclear codes is way more disturbing than the money. But still, critics claim that Melania Trump’s decision not to move into the White House is costing the country more in security than the annual budget for the National Endowment for the Arts.

    Melania is staying in New York so her son, Barron, can continue at his school. Presumably, the bill will drop somewhat over the summer. Meanwhile, the city police and the Secret Service have wrapped an incredibly expensive security blanket around a chunk of Fifth Avenue.

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Donald Trump's 1950s self-help foreign policy

    When President Donald Trump was born on June 14, 1946, the power of the United States was unprecedented. It had come out of World War II as the wealthiest and strongest nation in the world. It was the only major state to emerge from the war vastly richer rather than much poorer, and its standard of living was higher than that of any other country. Its per capita gross domestic product exceeded that of any other nation. Its manufacturing production accounted for more than half of the global total, and it was responsible for a third of the world's production of goods. On top of this, the United States possessed an exceptional military arsenal. Its navy was unrivaled, its air power was unsurpassed, and, at the time, it alone possessed the atomic bomb - a weapon whose awesome power had just devastated Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The world had never seen economic and strategic power on this scale.

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Democratic Party Sugar High

    These are giddy times for the forces of reason and light. A surge of resistance to a bumbling and unstable president has sent millions of people into the streets, into the faces of politicians, and into bookstores to make best sellers again of authoritarian nightmare stories.

    And all of that hasn’t changed the fact that Democrats, the opposition party, are more removed from power than at almost any point in history. Republicans control everything in Washington, two-thirds of state legislative chambers and 33 governor’s mansions.

    Every day brings some fresh affront to decency, some assault on progress, some blow to the truth. The people who run the White House can’t spell, can’t govern, can’t get through a news cycle without insulting an ally or defaming a cherished institution. Republicans just shrug and move on, in lock step with a leader who wants to set the country back a century. From their view, things are going swimmingly.

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Chicago still eager to hear from you, Mr. Trump

    As one who loves Chicago, I hope President Donald Trump is not toying with my affections.

    So far, the native New Yorker had been treating Chicago like the weather; he can't stop talking about it, but is there really much he can do about it?

    He's been talking about Chicago's violence epidemic since a June 29, 2015 meeting with the Chicago Tribune editorial board, which he addressed as if he was bringing news of which Chicagoans already were not painfully aware:

    "Crime in Chicago is out of control, and I will tell you, outside of Chicago, it's a huge negative and a huge talking point, a huge negative for Chicago," he said. "You've got to stop it. You're not going to stop it by being nice. You're going to stop it by being one tough son of a bitch."

    Right. This is the same Big Apple city slicker who had so poor of a grasp of the obvious that he refused to accept President Barack Obama's birth certificate until it became a political liability.

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February 15th

Can the US-Japan alliance survive Trump?

    Concerned. Anxious. Confused. Perplexed. These are the most common adjectives I heard in Tokyo from Japanese officials and experts who are trying to understand the Trump administration's approach to foreign policy and what it might mean for them.

    They are concerned about President Donald Trump's statements during the campaign - and for the last 30 years - denigrating U.S. alliances and bashing Japan, and wonder whether Trump understands the value of the alliance at all.

    They are concerned about Trump's transactional approach and fear that he will link economic and trade issues with security, holding the alliance hostage and putting the credibility of U.S. commitments in doubt.

    They are concerned about what "America First" means, especially for U.S. commitment to the Asia-Pacific region, and whether U.S. leadership and the U.S. presence will continue.

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