Archive

February 3rd, 2017

I had to flee Iran's repression. Trump's order may keep me from my only child.

    I am an Iranian, a journalist, a campaigner against Islamic extremism and a 40-year-old mother. I was forced to flee Iran's media crackdown with my teenage son, Pouyan, in 2009. I came to the United States as a green-card holder in 2014 after being a political refugee in the United Kingdom for five years. Due to my work, I cannot go back to Iran.

    After seven years of being in exile due to Iran's repression, I feel as if I am facing another crackdown, thanks to President Trump. His executive order to suspend the flow of refugees into the United States for 120 days, and to halt immigration for citizens of Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen for at least 90 days, could prevent me from seeing Pouyan, my only child, who is a now a student in the U.K. We feel as if we are both in limbo. I am unsure if he can come see me, or if can I go visit him, without being deprived of the right to come back to the United States. If were unable to return, it would be the end of my life here as I know it. When I think about not being able to see him, I feel sick.

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Democrats should use the coming court fight to spotlight Donald Trump's authoritarianism. Here's how.

    President Donald Trump's nomination of Colorado appeals court judge Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court presents Democrats with an opportunity. They can use the nomination fight to shine a light on Trump's authoritarian tendencies and serial undermining of our democratic norms, via lines of questioning that probe whether the courts can be counted on to act as a check on those impulses, which are already visibly motivating the Trump presidency.

    Gorsuch is being widely hailed by Republicans and conservatives for, among other things, his belief in constitutional originalist philosophy and his rulings on religious liberty. Liberals and Democrats, The Post reports, are blasting him as a "tool of conservative activists who would gut protections for consumers, workers, clean air and water, safe food and medicine and roll back the rights of women and LGBT people."

    All that will get litigated in due time, but another area that hopefully will also get aired out centers on whether our institutions -- in this case, the courts -- will function as a check on Trump's excesses.

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Executive order is a shameful stain on our country.

    When they came through the arrivals gate at John F. Kennedy International Airport in 1968, my parents could have been seen as a threat.

    It was the middle of the Cold War, and my parents - my mom was 21 and my dad was 23 - had spent their entire lives behind the Iron Curtain in a communist country. And 1968 was the bloodiest year yet for American troops in a war being fought to contain communism. Nearly 17,000 Americans died that year in Vietnam.

    And here came my parents through the airport gates in the middle of all of that, in the fanciest clothes they owned, two people with paperwork - Czechoslovakian passports - that linked them to communism.

    They were not detained, they were not questioned. They were allowed into a country symbolized by the Statue of Liberty.

    That was the America of 1968. It is not the America of today.

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Democrats prepare for a political war

    Democrats will probably overwhelmingly oppose President Donald Trump's nomination of conservative jurist Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court. That's a reflection of the party's growing conviction that all-out opposition to the Republican agenda is a winning political strategy.

    Their role model is Senate leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, who for eight years had one objective: Thwart President Barack Obama at every turn. That strategy culminated with the decision last year to reject the Supreme Court nomination of U.S. Appeals Court Judge Merrick Garland without even giving him a hearing.

    Politics more than merit will dominate the debate over Judge Gorsuch. It started almost immediately after Trump's Tuesday night announcement when Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Massachusetts, a former Harvard Law School professor, lashed out at the Gorsuch record and said she'd oppose him.

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Building a Wall of Ignorance

    We’re just over a week into the Trump-Putin regime, and it’s already getting hard to keep track of the disasters. Remember the president’s temper tantrum over his embarrassingly small inauguration crowd? It already seems like ancient history.

    But I want to hold on, just for a minute, to the story that dominated the news on Thursday, before it was, er, trumped by the uproar over the refugee ban. As you may recall — or maybe you don’t, with the crazy coming so thick and fast — the White House first seemed to say that it would impose a 20 percent tariff on Mexico, but may have been talking about a tax plan, proposed by Republicans in the House, that would do no such thing; then said that it was just an idea; then dropped the subject, at least for now.

    For sheer viciousness, loose talk about tariffs isn’t going to match slamming the door on refugees, on Holocaust Remembrance Day, no less. But the tariff tale nonetheless epitomizes the pattern we’re already seeing in this shambolic administration — a pattern of dysfunction, ignorance, incompetence, and betrayal of trust.

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Yates vs. Trump, the Constitution wins

    The Monday night massacre -- as President Donald Trump's firing of acting Attorney General Sally Yates was inevitably called -- lacked the grand madness of Richard Nixon's famous firing of special prosecutor Archibald Cox on Oct. 20, 1973, which prompted the resignations of the attorney general and the deputy attorney general.

    Trump's peremptory dismissal of Yates for refusing to enforce his executive order on immigration came symbolically at the beginning of his presidency, not with the end in sight, as in Nixon's case.

    But Trump's action was nevertheless redolent of self-destructive bravado, much like Nixon's. While technically within the authority of the executive, both actions revealed the instincts of a president who believed that he could get away with firing a subordinate to avoid the embarrassment of government institutions turning against him. Nixon was proved wrong -- and while Trump is not in danger of imminent impeachment, he's going to wear the shame of this firing for a long time.

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The impermanence of Trump the Temp

    Jesus would be the very first to denounce it.

    That someone able to help would wade through a desperate throng and aid only Christians runs contrary to everything Christlike.

    If not, that Good Samaritan spiel is just jive.

    Donald Trump has said of refugees from seven countries, “We don’t want them” – unless, of course, they worship as he pretends to do.

    Who is this “we,” Kemo Sabe?

    Bless those who swarmed U.S. airports to protest this abomination. Bless the cabbies who went on strike. Bless the civil rights attorneys. Bless the judges who enjoined the action. Bless the ACLU (oh, and “friend” it on Facebook).

    Collectively, emphatically, they kicked Trump’s tail.

    Yeah, yeah. The injunctions will expire. Trump may win in court. Regardless, he will lose.

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February 2nd

When society's faith in science erodes

    Cancer won't seem to leave my family alone. My grandmother, my mother, my father. Then my daughter, her fifth Christmas spent in intensive care after 11 hours of brain surgery. A year later, it came for my wife. Our daughter sat looking small and frail, shielded by a pair of oversize pink headphones, as the radiologist struggled to tell us there were two large lesions in my wife's brain.

    My wife, a woman of uncommon brilliance and strength, took her final breath on New Year's Eve in 2015, her body like a wraith. But she took that breath at home, surrounded by people she loved, having said goodbye on her terms. Science gave our family that gift.

    I'm a scientist. So was my wife. We understood the developmental hiccup that put the tumor in my daughter's brain, the cellular tricks behind my wife's experimental treatment, the awful ingenuity of her glioblastoma's attack on her. We understood it was a fight my wife was nearly certain to lose.

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Trump promised disruption, and that's exactly what he's delivering

    Donald Trump is who we thought he was.

    The 45th president campaigned as a radical break from both politics and policy as usual in Washington, promising to restore strength to the White House and the country while ignoring all tradition and political correctness.

    He spent the first week of his presidency doing just that - beginning with an executive order triggering the U.S.'s withdrawal from the Trans-Pacific Partnership, continuing through a midweek executive order to begin the process of building a wall along our southern border and culminating Friday with Trump's executive order temporarily halting refugees from entering the country and instituting a full entrance ban on visitors from seven predominantly Muslim countries.

    In between all of that, Trump again invoked his idea that millions of illegal votes had been cast in the 2016 election and pledged to get to the bottom of it.

    And, through it all, he kept tweeting.

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Political sniping won't end 'carnage' in Chicago

    I don't want to judge too hastily. Something good may come of President Donald Trump's offer to "send in the Feds" if Chicago authorities can't curb the city's homicide crisis.

    Something good may result from a Trumpian White House intervention, either because of it or in spite of it.

    But I might be more inclined to think that sending in "the Feds" was a promising idea if I knew which "Feds" he's talking about.

    His offer came via Twitter, like so many of our new president's other policy views. On Tuesday, the fifth night of his presidency, he tweeted, "If Chicago doesn't fix the horrible 'carnage' going on, 228 shootings in 2017 with 42 killings (up 24 percent from 2016), I will send in the Feds!"

    Three things were striking about this tweet. One, Chicago has a lot of feds in town already, whether the president knows it or not.

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