Sunday, January 29, 2017

On Donald Trump's Refugee Ban

Nothing has caused more political tension over the last several hours that President Donald Trump's executive order temporarily banning refugees from many countries in the Middle East. I'll admit that at first I thought he was coming through with his ban of all Muslims, which I opposed during the campaign. Now that I've read the text of the executive order, I know what it's about and I actually think it is part of a grand strategy that Trump has in the Middle East.

Recently, he ordered Secretary of Defense James Mattis and the Pentagon to submit to him a plan with new ways to defeat the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria within thirty days. The refugee ban is only expected to last for 120 days (unless extended). It looks like Trump is planning something swift over this period to defeat American enemies and bring order to the region.

I wouldn't have been as broad as President Trump when it came to banning people in addition to the refugees. His decision to sign the executive order on such short notice has caught agencies unprepared. I think this is partly the result of bad advice. Just look at the chaos in airports, where workers weren't prepared for the onslaught of demonstrations. The administration has also had to confirm that people with green cards were not supposed to be targeted by than, but it took over 24 hours to release that information.

I do like that he wants a stronger screening process. It seems to be that Trump just wants to strengthen American national security (even though I think he made a strategic mistake by placing the ban on so many). The executive order as a whole is good, but I think it was a mistake to place it on some people, such as those who have green cards. Nevertheless, the order is now in effect and we'll have to see if that ban was necessary.

The concern over those with dual citizenship is miniscule. If it is found illegal (and I mean going up to the Supreme Court), then the order will be changed. If not, then it can be maintained. Secondly, the president will be provided with a report over the next thirty days by the Departments of State and Homeland Security. If the dual citizenship ban is unnecessary, then they will inform him of that.

Critics seem to think he's embarking on some racist policy against Muslims while also not implementing a ban on countries he has conducted business with in the past (Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Turkey are some of the countries that won't suffer from the ban). I think the left could've made some decent and effective arguments against what Trump is doing, but instead they've resorted to idiocy.

Less than 15 percent of the global Muslim population is effect by the law based on numbers from the Pew Research Center. Of the top ten countries with the largest Muslim populations, only Iran is on the ban list. Countries like Indonesia wouldn't be because they aren't major national security threats nor are they unstable.

Flooding the airports is just going to make them more unpopular. If they want to win again, then they need to win with civility. The argument that Trump is in a conflict of interest with his business doesn't hold water. The executive order is based off of President Obama's strategy when it came restricting access through the Visa Waiver Program in 2015. By 2016, the Obama administration had restricted access to all seven nations that are in Trump's executive order (Iran, Iraq, Syria, Sudan, Somalia, Libya, and Yemen).

There hasn't been a time in recent history where the United States has opened the floodgates to all refugees. That policy simply wouldn't make sense. Even Obama stopped processing Iraqi refugees for six months in the name of national security. To open up for everyone is ridiculous when considering the mounting threats and logistical challenges that the United States faces. This is important to understand because there are precedents to what Trump wants to do.

Another argument made is that rejecting refugees undermines the Christianity of many conservatives and is uncompassionate. I've never found it to be a good idea to run this country based only off of faith. The way I would conduct the state of affairs is similar to that of Cardinal Richelieu. Although a religious leader, he was more significant for being the chief minister of the French monarchy from 1624 to 1642.

A minister at the time of the circulation of political scientist Niccolò Machiavelli's writings (which argued that a state was abstract and not determined by a ruler's personality), Richelieu believed that it was best to govern in the interests of the nation, not in the interests of any religion. That's why he was so successful in cementing French power during the tumultuous Thirty Years' War.

I believe that leaders of the United States should govern like Richelieu did. That means examining what is in the interest of the nation to check all immediate threats. That's the way we should handle a refugee ban.

Friday, January 13, 2017

Thank You, Charlie Sykes



For over 20 years, Charlie Sykes was an influential voice in in the conservative movement. His WTMJ-AM radio show, airing weekdays from 8:30 am to noon, was one of my favorite parts of the day when I was driving in Milwaukee. I’ve met Sykes at some events, most recently at a discussion over his latest book, Fail U., at Boswell Books. Additionally, Sykes was the host of Sunday Insight every weekend and took his views to the internet with the website Right Wisconsin.

No one, whether they be on the left or the right, can doubt that Sykes was a force to be reckoned with. WTMJ has been regularly ranked in the top 5 in the monthly Nielsen ratings, making it the most listened to talk radio outlet in southeastern Wisconsin. Sykes had the ability to motivate and inform the conservative electorate in his part of state on issues from the 1995 debates over Miller Park and school choice in Milwaukee to the very tense 2012 recall effort against Governor Scott Walker.

More than any other conservative media figure in Wisconsin, Sykes was highly effective in providing excellent commentary on political issues. Milwaukee Magazine was correct when they mentioned him as one of the most influential people in media (number three behind newscaster Mike Gousha and the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel’s Dan Bice, ranked one and two respectively). Sykes played a part in the rise of Walker, Ron Johnson, Paul Ryan, and many more Republican lawmakers. His Right Wisconsin awards were sort of like the Oscars for Republicans in the state, who were rewarded for working hard to push the conservative message.

Despite an extraordinary career in politics, many in Wisconsin may only remember him for what he did last: being the leader of the Never Trump movement in the state. In an interview with the The Cap Times, Sykes initially brushed off the question over his influence, pointing to Donald Trump’s victory in Wisconsin. If there’s one topic where I disagree with him, this is it.

The interview he had with Trump in March is a legendary example of Sykes taking a political opponent to task. He was instrumental in causing Trump’s defeat on April 5 in the Wisconsin primary. Trump’s worst showings in the Badger state were all in Sykes’ territory. Ted Cruz, who Sykes supported, won over 50 percent in Milwaukee county and Racine county. The WOW counties (Waukesha, Ozaukee, Washington), all voted for Cruz with 60 percent or more.

As for the general election between Trump and Hillary Clinton, his influence is proven in the differences between Trump’s winning margin and that of Johnson’s. Trump won by a margin of less than 1 percent. Johnson won by a margin of over 3 percent. Johnson did better in the counties where Sykes’ show is on the air. He won 53 percent of the voters in Racine county compared to Trump’s 49.8 percent. He won 67.9 percent of the voters in Waukesha county compared to Trump’s 61.1 percent. Even in Milwaukee county, the senator won 34 percent while the presidential nominee won 29 percent.

Thankfully, Sykes won’t be leaving the public eye entirely. He will be a contributor on MSNBC and has another book coming out next year (hopefully with more on the way). I’m sure he will continues to express his opinions over new issues that arise in the future and will always be one of the leaders of the conservative movement. Godspeed Charlie!