Day: January 29, 2017

Already Extreme Vetting

Most likely, over the next few days, we’ll hear a bunch of people try to stake out a middle ground that says, “the executive order goes too far, but it’s sensible to do more scrupulous vetting of refugees.” Sounds reasonable! But it doesn’t bear up under scrutiny.

Does anybody honestly believe we’re not already using all the available information to investigate refugees before we allow them to immigrate? Do you imagine that when we search for a criminal history, we choose not to check some of the available databases? That doesn’t sound like us. We are actively looking for reasons to reject applications, not the other way around.

Will a few refugees commit crimes if we let in a lot of refugees? Sure. Doesn’t mean our application process isn’t the best we can make it. Think about ivy league college applications, and how competitive the application process is for that handful of coveted spots – and how despite this, not everyone graduates, and oh yeah there are some rapes on campus. Think about the hiring process at Fortune 500 companies with vast HR and audit departments, and how embezzling still manages to occur. (Refugee screening is, of course, more rigorous than either of those nerve-wracking, drawn-out, paperwork-heavy audition processes.)

I’m not convinced it’s genuinely possible to do “extreme vetting.” Even with a wealth of data, you can’t tell for sure what someone’s going to do 10 years out – not even you. We all already know this, in our hearts of hearts.

If someone demands perfection, where perfect means “able to predict the future with complete accuracy,” it’s not a serious negotiating position. All you can really say is “let’s let x-number of people in, and make sure ICE agents have enough funding to do their work as sorters.” Anybody who doesn’t name a number is weasling around.

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My Money’s On Stupid

Trump’s immigration fiasco might be more premeditated than we think” by Kevin Drum at Mother Jones

I think this is an interesting take, but I don’t necessarily co-sign it, for a little reason I like to call recent Gallup polls Bannon has to be aware of. This administration doesn’t seem to care much about doing things people like, and has opted pretty consistently to take the OPPOSITE of a hearts-and-minds approach, so I’m not sure why this one thing would be different.

Frankly, I find it difficult to imagine anyone could do something like this as a “play” rather than an expression of sincerely held belief and conviction. They might think more people agree with them, butt I don’t believe, and have never believed, that they were race-baiting yet not themselves furiously racist. That doesn’t fit with my definitions of “not racist.”

But, you know, just in case: keep an eye on this.

Fake Empathy

My disdain for “now you know how we felt under Obama” (which I’ve read verbatim a number of times, an island to itself, like a bumper sticker) isn’t just that it’s absurd to pretend the situations are equivalent. It’s that even if I give the most extreme benefit of the doubt – we are, after all, talking about feelings, not facts, and who knows what this person’s trusted news sources are – it’s an awful thing to say to a friend. It’s: “I hear you’re frightened and grieving; let’s talk about me and how I need more credit.”

If you’re really trying to reach out – if this isn’t just vindictiveness under the thinnest pretense of empathy – try, “I see how you feel. I’ve been through this, and it didn’t turn out as bad as the scariest stuff I was reading. Here’s why I think it will be ok this time.” That’s how people talk who are sincere about maintaining relationships across political divides. (I speak from experience. Thanks, buds.)

If you can’t do that, maybe you shouldn’t say anything. Maybe this isn’t a topic where you need to weigh in.

Big Ol’ Bill

Given all the “while you were paying attention to THIS Trump was doing THIS” posts I’ve seen flying around, I imagine it’s occurred to some of you that the Republicans in Congress (a.k.a. the majority of both houses of Congress) who might otherwise object to insane executive orders are currently distracted by trying to come up with a replacement 2700-page health bill which Trump ‘n’ them promised they’d roll out any day now.

At least I hope that’s why they’ve been largely silent. That’s gotta be it, right?